Portugal coach laments poor defending in 2-2 draw

BRAGA (Portugal) • Portugal coach Fernando Santos rued the "abnormal" goals the European football champions conceded in a 2-2 draw with Tunisia in a pre-World Cup friendly in Braga on Monday.

Portugal, who rested captain and leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo after he played in Saturday's Champions League final for Real Madrid, were 2-0 up through Andre Silva and Joao Mario.

But their defensive frailties were again exposed as Tunisia hit back.

Portugal's backline imploded in their previous game, a 3-0 friendly defeat by the Netherlands in March. And the cracks began to appear in the 39th minute, when Anice Badri was left alone inside the penalty area to fire past Anthony Lopes.

Santos was given more cause for concern in the 64th minute after Portugal failed to properly clear a free kick. When the ball was played back in, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef got between four defenders to slide the ball home with the hosts appealing in vain for offside.

"A draw is not a good result and never will be," the Portugal coach lamented to reporters.

"At 2-0 we started to make more mistakes collectively. For the second goal we let the opponent score. We had to approach the first goal in a different way.

Portugal forward Bernardo Silva (left) being challenged by Tunisia midfielder Ferjani Sassi in their friendly match on Monday.
Portugal forward Bernardo Silva (left) being challenged by Tunisia midfielder Ferjani Sassi in their friendly match on Monday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

  • 6 Goals Portugal have conceded in three friendly matches this year.

"The team is conceding goals in an abnormal way, we have to think about that."

Portugal fans were hoping for a morale-boosting win less than two weeks before they head to Russia.

But the Euro 2016 winners, who face Spain, Morocco and Iran in Group B, largely flattered to deceive.

And they are likely to still be without Ronaldo when they face Belgium in Brussels on June 2 and Algeria in Lisbon on June 7.

Meanwhile, Tunisia, grouped with England, Panama and Belgium in their World Cup Group G, showed they are unlikely to be pushovers.

The North Africans were strong and physical throughout the game and showed that they will pose an attacking threat, particularly with their speed on the counter-attack.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'Portugal coach laments poor defending in 2-2 draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe