MX23RW : Friday, October 19 00:03:33
Jun 2, 2018 at 7.45pm UK
Belgium
0-0
Portugal
FT

Pepe (54')

Result: Belgium draw with Portugal to extend unbeaten streak

Two of the World Cup's potential dark horses Belgium and Portugal play out a goalless draw in a warm-up friendly in Brussels ahead of the tournament.

Belgium have extended their unbeaten run to 17 games courtesy of a goalless draw with Portugal in this evening's World Cup warm-up match in Brussels.

Neither side could break the deadlock as their preparations for this summer's tournament continued, playing out a stalemate in the final match before the World Cup squads must be finalised on Monday.

Belgium will now take on Egypt and Costa Rica in their final two games before travelling to Russia - where they have been drawn alongside England - while Portugal now have only one warm-up match remaining, against Algeria.

Eden Hazard in action during the international friendly between Belgium and Portugal on June 2, 2018© Reuters

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez chose a strong team including the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku in the starting lineup, whereas Portugal were still without their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo following his Champions League exploits last weekend.

The home side's quality almost shone through in the opening minutes when Lukaku was first denied a shot from inside the box before directed a tame header straight at Beto from the follow-up.

Portugal responded immediately, though, with Goncalo Guedes working space to shoot from range but firing his 25-yard effort narrowly over the crossbar.

Thibaut Courtois was called into action for the first time midway through the first half when Joao Moutinho tried his luck from even further out, and his dipping strike needed to be tipped away by the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Both of the teams have been tipped as dark horses for this summer's World Cup, and they continued to trade blows as the first half wore on with Yannick Carrasco turning smartly and firing into the side-netting just moments before Bernardo Silva cut inside but scuffed his finish into the arms of Courtois.

Kevin De Bruyne and Goncalo Guedes in action during the international friendly between Belgium and Portugal on June 2, 2018© Reuters

The Chelsea shot-stopper was called into more challenging work soon after when Raphael Guerreiro was afforded space to shoot, unleashing a powerful effort which Courtois needed to be at full stretch to turn away.

Portugal were beginning to gain a certain degree of control over the contest, but they struggled to turn that into goals and Guedes nodded over before Bernardo's deflected drive flew narrowly past the post as Belgium hung on.

The chances continued to arrive for the visitors and Gelson Martins was the next to squander an opportunity before Guedes fired wide from the edge of the area right on the stroke of half time.

Belgium managed to hang on until the interval, though, and it was the home side that created the first chance after the restart too when Jan Vertonghen almost marked his 100th international appearance with a goal, only for Beto to get a hand to his curling effort from the edge of the box.

Romelu Lukaku and Pepe in action during the international friendly between Belgium and Portugal on June 2, 2018© Reuters

Portugal were soon back on the front foot, though, and they should have been ahead midway through the second half when Guedes beat the offside trap before picking out Martins, who got his finish all wrong and missed the target from eight yards out.

It took a fine save from Beto to prevent Belgium from taking full advantage of that miss, with the Portugal keeper getting down smartly to deny Thomas Meunier.

A Nacer Chadli cross almost broke the deadlock with just over 15 minutes remaining, but Christian Benteke was inches short of getting on the end of it and the ball skipped past the far post.

It was the home side that continued to look the most likely to get a winner late on, with Adnan Januzaj and Dedryck Boyata both coming close, but Portugal held on to make it back-to-back draws in their World Cup warm-up matches.

There was late concern for the Euro 2016 champions, however, as goalkeeper Beto appeared to damage his hamstring in injury time, just two days before the final squads for the tournament must be released.

Belgium will get their World Cup campaign underway against Panama on June 18, whereas Portugal are in action three days before that when they face Iberian rivals Spain.

BELGIUM (3-4-3): Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany (Boyata 55'), Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Dembele (Fellaini 46'), Carrasco (Chadli 46'); Mertens (Januzaj 46'), Lukaku (Benteke 46'), E Hazard (T Hazard 80')

PORTUGAL (4-4-2): Beto; Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro; Martins (Quaresma 63'), Moutinho (B Fernandes 87'), Carvalho, Mario (M Fernandes 72'); Bernardo (A Silva 78'), Guedes (Rui 93')

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