2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifer
Result: Portugal 1-0 Azerbajin
Date: 24 March 2021
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Portugal stuttered to a 1-0 victory over Azerbaiijan as their World Cup qualifying campaign got off to an underwhelming start.
Portugal were bossing the early exchanges and came close twice in quick succession in the 10th and 11th minutes when Ruben Neves and Joao Cancelo brought fine saves out of Azerbaijan keeper Sahruddin Mahammadaliyev.
In the 19th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo provided an excellent assist as his ball to the far post was controlled and volleyed towards goal by Domingos Duarte but it could not find the target.
Soon after, Duarte's header at the near post was diverted behind for a corner by Mahammadaliyev from a set-piece.
On the half-hour mark, Joao Cancelo fired over from a tight angle when he probably should have played in Ronaldo, who looked less than impressed.
Seven minutes later and the European champions had their lead through an own goal. Mahammadaliyev rushed out to clear a cross, but punched the ball into right-back Maksim Medvedev before it rolled slowly into the back of the net.
The Selecao were not having it their own way in the second half. The first real chance in the second period fell to Ronaldo in the 69th minute when he nearly hammered a volley from a corner into the far post corner but Mahammadaliyev did well to tip it around the post.
Defensive miscommunication by Portugal almost resulted in Azerbaijan equalising. Anthony Lopes came too far out of his goal and didn't punch far enough but Nuriyev didn't manage to punish him.
The scoreline would have been different were it not for the heroics of Mahammadaliyev. In the 78th minute, he made another brilliant stop to deny Bruno Fernandes after Ronaldo did well to set him up for the strike.
With five minutes remaining, Ronaldo's dipping and swerving free-kick meant Mahammadaliyev had to be on his toes once again to deny the Portuguese superstar as Fernando Santos' side got their qualifying campaign off to a winning start - albeit an underwhelming one.