LISBON (REUTERS) - Portugal climbed to the top of European Championship qualifying Group I with a hard-fought 2-1 win over a resolute Serbia side on Sunday. Portugal midfielders Tiago, Joao Moutinho and Fabio Coentrao maintained a firm grip on the match and only when Serbia equalised through a brilliant goal by Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic early in the second half did the visitors look likely to get a result.
Portugal struck after 10 minutes when stalwart defender Ricardo Carvalho glanced a well-placed header into the net from close range.
Matic, playing on his old Benfica stamping ground to great effect, connected with a breathtaking left-foot scissor kick to make it 1-1.
But Portugal struck straight back through man-of-the-match Coentrao, who slid in Joao Moutinho's low cross at the far post to cap an energetic performance. Portugal saw out the remaining minutes without any major scares, bringing on Ricardo Quaresma to keep the overworked Serbian defence pinned back as world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo produced an unusually quiet performance. The Portuguese head Group I after four matches by two points from Denmark and Albania.
Elsewhere, Ireland substitute Shane Long scored an injury-time equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw against Group D leaders Poland at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday to keep them in contention for a place at Euro 2016.
Scotland eased to a 6-1 win over Group D minnows Gibraltar with Steven Fletcher becoming the first Scotland player to score a hat-trick since 1969 as the Scots coasted to victory at Hampden.