Intensity lacking in win: Santos

Portugal flayed by coach after minnows Latvia get equaliser before surrendering

Cristiano Ronaldo (right) scoring Portugal's third goal in the 4-1 win against Latvia in the World Cup qualifying match at Algarve Stadium, Portugal, on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) scoring Portugal's third goal in the 4-1 win against Latvia in the World Cup qualifying match at Algarve Stadium, Portugal, on Sunday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LISBON • Portugal coach Fernando Santos lamented his side's "lack of intensity" despite the European champions' 4-1 victory over unfancied Latvia in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

On a typically dramatic night for Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portugal captain scored twice and even missed a penalty, as his team recovered from a second-half wobble in Lisbon to remain three points adrift of Group B leaders Switzerland.

The Real Madrid forward fired Portugal ahead from his first spot kick of the evening in the first half, but missed a chance to double the lead when his second penalty, after the interval, struck the post.

It looked like a costly miss when Arturs Zjuzins equalised for Latvia in the 68th minute but William Carvalho headed Portugal back in front two minutes later.

Ronaldo volleyed the third before Bruno Alves completed the win.

"We complicated things in the first half because we lacked intensity," Santos told Portuguese newspaper A Bola. "In terms of possession of the ball, we were good, but we lacked acceleration in our play.

"At the break, I spoke with the players and we started better, we created chances, played a little faster, but then we conceded a goal. However, the team reacted really well and got a goal.

"Fortunately, William (Carvalho)'s goal came quickly enough and then later we could have got more. If only we'd had the same intensity throughout the game."

Portugal are second in Group B with nine points from four games. Switzerland stayed top after their 2-0 win over the Faroe Islands.

In Group A, out-of-favour Manchester United winger Memphis Depay came off the bench to score twice and save the Netherlands' blushes in Luxembourg.

Arjen Robben opened the scoring for the Dutch in the 36th minute before Maxine Chanot equalised through a penalty before the break.

Depay's two second-half goals sealed the 3-1 win for the Netherlands, who are in second place, three points behind France. The 22-year-old's performance delighted Ronald Koeman, who is said to be interested in signing the winger.

The Everton manager told Fox Sports Netherlands programme De tafel van Kees: "I would like to have him. I think he is an interesting player. He has great individual qualities. He just needs to play games."

Depay signed for United from Feyenoord for £25 million (S$31.3 million) in May last year and remains under contract in Manchester until the summer of 2019.

When asked about his plans, he said that he would be returning to Old Trafford with renewed confidence in a campaign in which he has seen just 20 minutes of league action, all off the bench, and started only a domestic Cup match.

"I'm going to fight my utmost to make sure I can get back in contention," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2016, with the headline 'Intensity lacking in win: Santos'. Subscribe