Portugal 2-0 Uruguay - World Cup 2022: Bruno Fernandes double sees his side through to the last-16

The image of a smiling Bruno Fernandes flashed up on the big screens and a groan of disappointment washed around the stadium. Just in case there was any confusion about who and what they were all here to see. It wasn’t poor old Bruno.

They were here to Cristiano Ronaldo. They were here to see him score a goal in the Lusail Stadium, the home to this year’s World Cup final. The place where Lionel Messi found the net on Saturday night.

Anything Messi can do Ronaldo can do, right? It seemed so in the 54th minute when Fernandes clipped the ball across from Portugal’s left wing and Ronaldo escaped Sebastian Coates, sprang and applied the faintest of glancing headers.

Off he sprinted to celebrate as it settled in the net, biceps bulging and fists pumping, although he did refrain from the full-scale spring and pirouette affair, which may have been the first hint that he knew he had not made contact with the ball.

At this tournament, FIFA are using an Adidas ball containing a sensor as part of the semi-automated offside technology. It is meant to be able to detect the slightest touch so someone, somewhere knew whose goal it was.

They awarded it to Fernandes although, presumably, Portugal boss Fernando Santos cared not a jot whose it was. It set them onto the way to another win and a place in the last 16, exacting a modicum of revenge for the World Cup exit at the hands of Uruguay four years ago.

Fernandes claimed his second of the night, a penalty generously awarded for handball after a VAR referral.

Ronaldo couldn’t claim this one. He was resting on the bench, otherwise he would surely have stepped up to take it to the thrill of a crowd close to 89,000, who devoured his every move from the moment he first emerged, strutted through the warm-up and started the game with a shoulder pass and a towering leap to win a header.

In truth, the forward without a club has been close to the centre of attention since the tournament began.

He arrived in the storm caused by an interview, was released by Manchester United and scored Portugal’s first of the tournament, making him the first man to score in five World Cups.

In the stands of the Lusail many shrieked when he performed a couple of unnecessary step-overs near a corner flag and wobbled his leg. It was a strange reaction. Not one he would expect at Old Trafford, but the best performers know their audience.

Here he was peacocking through the party hits and, in truth, there had been very little else to tempt the paying public from their very expensive seats during a cautious, disjointed and niggly opening phase played out at a pedestrian tempo.

Rodrigo Bentancur was booked in the fifth minute, late on Ruben Dias, and set himself a dangerous path.

Every challenge he made became a potential problem, with Portugal’s players inviting him into a tackle by delaying the release of their pass. Then collapsing in a heap when he got close enough to make contact. Uruguay reciprocated, and it did nothing to help the flow of the game.

Bentancur carved out the best chance of the first half. It was created all by himself, carrying the ball forward inside his own half before jinking between two defenders on the edge of the Portugal penalty area and breaking through onto the goalkeeper.

He scored four in his last five Premier League games for Tottenham but could not find a way past ‘keeper Diogo Costa on this occasion. Costa closed him down, spread his body and made a block with his legs.

Veteran defender Pepe returned to the Portugal back four at the age of 39 as a replacement for Danilo Pereira who broke ribs in training and is ruled out of the group stage. There was another injury blow when left back Nuno Mendes was hurt before half time and limped off in tears.

Joao Felix wasted Portugal’s first clear chance, seconds after a pitch invader carrying a rainbow flag interrupted proceedings, but they were soon ahead thanks to the Fernandes cross not headed in by Ronaldo.

Belatedly, Uruguay took some risks, rallied and went close to an equaliser. Fede Valverde rattled a post with a fierce shot and Luis Suarez hit the side netting. Giorgian de Arrascaeta forced a fine save from Costa.

Then Fernandes converted his second from the spot and twice, he went close to a hat-trick.

A volley at the back post saved the feet of goalkeeper Sergio Rochet and an low drive from the edge of the penalty box that beat the ‘keeper only to bounce wide off a post. He deserved more than a groan.

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