International Friendly: Croatia 0 Portugal 1
By Football News
Portugal secured their third consecutive win as they edged past Croatia thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo strike in Geneva on Monday.
Paulo Bento's men gave their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup a boost with victory over Russia last Friday, and they carried that momentum into this contest, producing some excellent attacking football against Igor Stimac's side. Real Madrid pairing Ronaldo and Fabio Contreao were both named in the starting XI along with new Monaco signing Joao Moutinho, while Croatia restored Luka Modric to their line-up after he missed their surprising 1-0 defeat to Scotland last week.
It was Stimac's side who were presented with the first real chance of the game as Ivica Olic skewed a shot wide when faced with an open goal following a rash backpass from Portugal right-back Silvio. Opportunities were few and far between in a tenative opening to the game, but Ronaldo should have put his side ahead less than 20 minutes in as he failed to connect with a pull back from Coentrao with the goal at his mercy.However, the 28-year-old atoned for that miss 10 minutes before the break, beating Crotia keeper Danijel Subasic with a low effort that crept into the bottom corner after Silvestre Varela had flicked a right-wing cross from Silvio into his path.
That goal seemed to shred the confidence of the Croatian defence as Portugal wasted two excellent chances in four minutes. First, Ruben Amorim fired over at the far post following an excellent cross from Varela, before Ronaldo headed against the crossbar after more good work from Coentrao. Ronaldo was withdrawn at the interval and replaced by Wolfsburg winger Vierinha, and Portugal's attacking threat subsided somewhat without their captain.
Defender Ricardo Costa drew an excellent save from Subasic after powering onto a free-kick, but Croatia grew into the encounter and could have levelled if Olic's had been able to direct a header on target after he met a Dario Srna flick-on. Still, Portugal stopper Eduardo was forced into very few meaningful saves, and Croatia's evening was summed up as Ivan Perisic wasted a superb delivery from Modric, heading wide with substitute Alen Halilovic well positioned to collect a knock-down.Dinamo Zagreb man Halilovic was becoming increasingly prominent, and he went closest to finding a leveller, Eduardo producing a fine save to tip the midfielder's low drive narrowly wide. Still despite increasing pressure on the Portugal defence, Croatia could not find the goal they craved and were condemned to their second straight defeat.