PORTO: Portugal don’t care how they qualify for Qatar 2022, as long as they’re there. The first step in playoff action went smoothly so far.
Portugal beat Turkey 3-1, surviving a last-minute penalty by Burak Yilmaz as they took a 2-1 lead that could drag the match into extra time or a penalty.
Failing to get to the World Cup is something that is unacceptable for Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, who after 12 years has not won any trophies for the first time in competition at club level.
Portugal had to advance to the playoffs after finishing second in the qualifying group following defeat at the hands of Serbia in November.
He was one of three United players to line up in the starting line-up against Turkey, alongside Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot, for the 185th international cap of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
However, Porto’s young player, Otavio managed to break the deadlock, before Diogo Jota added a goal in the first half.
Turkey closed the gap midway through the second half but missed an equalizer when Yilmaz failed to complete a penalty.
Ronaldo had a chance to make it 3-1 but failed to take advantage to add to his collection of international goals which now tops the list with 115 goals.
A minute later substitute Rafael Leao ensured victory for Portugal with Ronaldo once again missing out when his effort hit the post.
“The first step has been completed towards our main goal, the 2022. World Cup. Haven’t won anything, haven’t achieved anything.
“We need to continue to work seriously and focus, respect our opponents but always believe in our own abilities. Portugal is in power! Come to Qatar!” said Ronaldo.
Portugal should have met in Italy in the final action of the playoffs, however the European champions were surprised by Northern Macedonia who now have to overcome the challenge of the squad led by Ronaldo.