TURIN, Italy: European champions Portugal kicked off their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a win thanks to Azerbaijan’s own goal that gave them a slim 1-0 win in Group A in Turin.
Azerbaijan captain Maksim Medvedev scored his own goal in the 36th minute but only the goal gave Portugal the victory against the 108th ranked opponent in the world.
“We’re facing a little bit of difficulty, a little bit of trouble, it’s undeniable,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said after his 50th win out of 80 games he led.
“In the second half, the team lost inspiration and fluency as a team.”
Cristiano Ronaldo failed to explode at his club’s Juventus stadium-with the match underway due to obstacles following COVID-19-seven goals less than the all-time leading scorer in international competition, Ali Daei of Iran with a record 109 goals.
Portugal struggled due to a less venomous finish, Azerbaijan’s solid defense and goalkeeper Shakhrudin Magomedaliyev’s brilliant performance.
“We haven’t played together in quite some time,” Santos said. “It’s something normal and we need to warm up a little more, but we did like what everyone expected.
“We ended up winning, it’s true it was because of our own goals, maybe we should have won with more goals.”