Portugal dazzles against North Korea
Portugal displayed the form on Monday that could see it in the mix for World Cup contention, dominating North Korea 7-0 in Group G action on Monday in Cape Town, South Africa.
Raul Meireles put Portugal up midway through the first half and Simao, Hugo Almeida and Tiago scored goals in a seven-minute span early in the second as a result of some dazzling passing plays.
Liedson, Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiago added goals beyond the 80th minute for the winners, who also hit a post and missed a couple of other prime scoring chances.
"It was a great day for Portugal and Portuguese football," coach Carlos Queiroz said "The players are really happy with the way they played, the attitude for the game, the beautiful football, the beautiful goals."
Portugal rebounded from a draw against Ivory Coast in its first match to eliminate North Korea from the tournament. North Korea was competing for the first time since 1966.
It was the most one-sided World Cup match since Germany routed Saudi Arabia 8-0 in 2002.
Portugal will take on Brazil (2-0-0) on Friday in a battle for the top Group G spot. Portugal hasn't officially advanced yet, but Ivory Coast (0-1-1) would need to run up several goals on North Korea and hope Portugal lost in one-sided fashion to Brazil.
Ronaldo's goal was the first in a competitive match for the national team since the 2008 Euro. Ronaldo also set up Tiago's second goal in the 60th.
"To score seven goals in a World Cup is not easy," said Ronaldo, who gave his man-of-the-match award to Tiago. "My teammates played very well."
North Korea had early chances, but were undone when Meireles latched on to a clever pass by Tiago and gave Portugal its first score of the tournament. The goal seemed to deflate the Koreans, while the Portuguese finally began to show some of the Latin flair that has made them an outside favourite to win their first championship.
"Tactically speaking, we fell apart and we couldn't block their attacks," North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun said. "It was my fault for not playing the right strategy and that is why we conceded a lot of goals."
Meireles assisted on Simao's goal in the 53rd minute, which went through the legs of North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk. Almeida scored three minutes later from a powerful header, and Tiago knocked home a pass from Ronaldo in the 60th.
Liedson scored from a defensive error, before Ronaldo ended a 16-month goal drought for his country with a simple finish after the ball fell to him.
"It was important to score goals today," Tiago said.
Played in a steady downpour, the wet field at Green Point Stadium caused numerous players to lose their footing and there was a series of errant passes.
North Korea named the same lineup as the one that impressed in a 2-1 loss to Brazil, but Queiroz made four changes from the team that was held to 0-0 draw by Ivory Coast.
Tiago replaced the injured Deco in midfield, with Almeida and Simao joining Ronaldo up front. Miguel Brito was chosen ahead of Paulo Ferreira at right back.
Portugal started positively, with Ronaldo sending a left-footed shot at Ri in the third minute, but the world's most expensive player was largely quiet until the second half.
After Ricardo Carvalho headed from a corner off the post in the seventh minute, the Koreans enjoyed their best spell. Cha Jong Hyok and An Yong Hak missed with long-range efforts, while striker Jong Tae Se should have done better with Mun In Guk's chip.
With files from CBCSports.ca