MX23RW : Wednesday, November 21 18:50:47
Jun 9, 2017 at 7.45pm UK
LatviaLatvia
0-3
Portugal
FT(HT: 0-1)
Ronaldo (41', 63'), Silva (67')

Live Commentary: Latvia 0-3 Portugal - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Portugal's 3-0 win over Latvia, as Cristiano Ronaldo again inspired his country to all three points.

Portugal beat Latvia 3-0 at the Skonto Stadium in Riga courtesy of two goals and an assist from star man Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Real Madrid ace was at it again, six days on from lifting the Champions League, as he netted either side of half time to give the Selecao a comfortable lead.

A third arrived 67 minutes into the match, Andre Silva linking up with Ronaldo and tucking the ball home to keep his side's impressive run of form going.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.


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7.15pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the World Cup qualifier between Latvia and Portugal at the Skonto Stadium. The visitors have been in good form of late, a friendly defeat to Sweden aside a few months back, and are overwhelming favourites to maintain the pace with Switzerland at the top of Group B this evening in the final round of qualifiers in 2016-17.

7.17pmThe Selecao have surprisingly being left playing catch up in the race to qualify automatically for Russia 2018 due to an opening-game defeat to Switzerland, and you would back the Swiss to maintain their perfect start when they travel to the Faroe Islands elsewhere tonight. Just a little added pressure on Portugal to get the job done in Riga, then, but you would fancy them to do exactly that - and in style, too!

7.19pmTEAM NEWS!

LATVIA XI: Vanins, Maksimenko, Laizans, D.Ikaunieks, Sabala, Solovjovs, Gorkss, Kazacoks, Kolesovs, Jagodinskis, Kluskins

PORTUGAL XI: Patricio, Alves, Guerreiro, Fonte, Ronaldo, Moutinho, Andre Silva, Carvalho, Gomes, Martins, Soares


7.21pmStarting with a look at the visitors, the big news is that manager Fernando Santos has Cristiano Ronaldo to call upon once again in attack. The Real Madrid ace was helping his club side to another memorable European Cup triumph in Cardiff at the same time that his national side were putting four past Cyprus in last weekend's friendly, but he has seen his playing time managed well by Zinedine Zidane this term and is fit enough to feature from the off in this one.

7.23pmThis is a very exciting period for Portuguese football, with plenty of young talent throughout the squad. Look no further than Porto forward Andre Silva for an example of that, who joins Gelson Martinez and Ronaldo in the front three - 4-3-3 likely being the formation used by Santos this evening. There is quality support from midfield, too, as Andre Gomes, William Carvalho and Joao Mourinho - the latter of whom bagged a double against Cyprus in that friendly six days ago - attempt to link defence with attack.

7.25pmRicardo Quaresma is back in the squad but unable to break into the starting lineup, while ex-Real Madrid defender and now free agent Pepe misses out entirely. In terms of the hosts, boss Aleksandrs Starkovs has the vastly experienced Kaspars Gorkss leading his side once again tonight; a player who has taken in spells with the likes of Blackpool, Queens Park Rangers and Reading during his time in English football.

7.27pmGlebs Kluskins, who plies his trade for FK Jelgava in the Latvian top flight, leads the line for the home team tonight, while Vitalijs Jagodinskis will likely start just off him in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Man for man this should be as one-sided a contest as they come, but Latvia fared well in games against top-two sides Portugal and Switzerland in the reverse fixtures, albeit eventually going down 4-1 after a late collapse to the Selecao.

7.29pmDID YOU KNOW? Cristiano Ronaldo, back in the Portugal squad tonight after helping Real Madrid to the Champions League last weekend, is on course to end his career as the top-scoring player of all time at international level. The winger-cum-striker has netted 10 in his last six for the Selecao and now requires another nine to move into joint-third in the all-time standings. Ronaldo, if you were wondering, has a truly incredible 51 goals in 50 games this term.

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo controls the ball during the friendly against Estonia on June 8, 2016© AFP


7.31pmPortugal head to Riga on the back of a run that has seen them win six of their eight matches since surprising many by winning Euro 2016 just under a year ago. One of those defeats came in a recent friendly to Sweden when perhaps taking their eye off the ball in what was essentially a chance for the folk of Madeira to welcome home Ronaldo, while the other was a more costly 2-0 reverse to Switzerland in their first qualifier on the road to Russia.

7.33pmSince going down to the Swiss they have netted 19 goals and conceded just one in their four qualifiers, while also brushing aside Cyprus 4-0 last weekend in a friendly as they attempt to build some further momentum heading into the confederations Cup. The Selecao take on Mexico in their opening fixture of that World Cup warm-up, before facing hosts Russia and New Zealand in the group stage.

7.35pmPortugal currently second in Group B, then, courtesy of that opening-game defeat to leaders Switzerland, so they cannot afford to drop any points in Riga tonight. A very weak bottom half to the group, which contains Faroe Islands, Andorra and Latvia, means that Hungary present the only real stumbling block for the Swiss between now and the showdown between the two pacesetters in October. What a game that should be!

7.37pmThat is not to say Portugal will run away with things tonight. Latvia may be ranked 122nd in the world, and they have lost five games in a row, but they restricted Switzerland to just one goal recently - Josip Drmic netting the decisive goal after the hour - and were also locked at 1-1 with Portugal heading into the final 20 minutes in the reverse fixture seven months ago. Goals from Ronaldo, Carvalho and Alves rather rescued Santos's men on that occasion at the Estadio Algarve.

7.39pmPrior to this ongoing losing streak, Latvia beat fellow minnows Andorra in their opening fixture to make it six matches unbeaten. They held Slovakia and Estonia to away draws during that spell which, combined with those relatively positive results against Switzerland and Portugal, suggests that they do have it in them to pull off a big shock on home soil. Fourth spot in the group is their realistic target, battling Andorra and Faroe Islands for that honour.

7.41pmSpeaking in the build-up to tonight's match, Portugal boss Fernando Santos was quick to point out that his team struggled to break down their opponents in the reverse fixture until the final 20 minutes or so. "We know we have to be patient," he says, and that will very much be the key. However, an early goal - always possible with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in your ranks - and it may well be a walk in the park.

Fernando Santos: "We will have to show that we are better, because on paper it appears easy, but on the pitch it is a lot more difficult. Latvia are a team that work hard and apply themselves to their individual tasks very well. The opponents are strong in this respect, and they'e strong at home where they often win, so we have to match them in these aspects and then we have the quality to succeed. The game in the Algarve was very even for a long period, so we know we have to be patient and take our chances."


7.43pmBoth sets of players have now made their way out on to the field of play, with kickoff at the Skonto Stadium in Riga just a couple of minutes away. Before a ball is kicked, time for both anthems, starting with the visitors'. Incidentally, this stadium holds around 9,500 supporters and there does not appear to be an empty seat - no surprise, really, when you are technically taking on the continent's best side.

Greece's Portuguese coach Fernando Santos is pictured during a group C football match between Colombia and Greece at the Mineirao Arena in Belo Horizonte during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014© Getty Images


1 minKICKOFF! We are up and running at the Skonto Stadium. Portugal require three points against an out-of-form Latvia side, while at the same time hoping that Switzerland slip-up away to the Faroe Islands elsewhere in Group B.

3 minLatvia seeing a fair bit of the ball in the early stages, looking to put their opponents under a little pressure. European champions Portugal happy to sit back for the time being, in no real rush to get up the field and attack.

5 minNot a bad start from the hosts at all. They nearly manage to get in behind but the offside flag is shown, yet it was not exactly planned as far as the Selecao are concerned - they got a little lucky and were nearly exposed.

7 minGood atmosphere being generated inside the Skonto Stadium, with home supporters encouraged by what they have seen so far. No chances at either end, but the underdogs have enjoyed more of the possession in the opening stages.

9 minThe theme of the game continues - Latvia showing plenty of attacking impetus and getting a good delivery into the box, where Guerreiro is waiting to help it aside. Barely seen Ronaldo so far, with the Portuguese unable to break.

11 minWe are now 11 minutes into the game and Portugal have barely managed to put together an attacking move. Far from sitting back, Latvia are giving a good account of themselves in their opponents' final third of the field.

13 minRonaldo unhappy after being shoved over, but the referee tells him to get back to his feet. The game has seen Portugal grow into things a little more over the past couple of minutes, earning themselves a corner through Gorkss's clearance.

15 minSHOT! First attempt of the night comes via Valerijs Sabala, who tries rather audaciously to catch out Rui Patricio from range. Not even sure if it was on target, but Patricio easily collected down low regardless to keep the scoreline level.

17 minGuerreiro with a fine delivery from the left but Silva cannot quite get his head to it. Latvia defending a little nervously at the moment, as Portugal begin to fully up the pressure a little and get in their opponents' faces.

19 minSAVE! Silva flicks on a corner and Alves gets on the end of it, forcing Andris Vanins into a straightforward stop. Moutinho then tries his luck from around 25 yards out but sees his shot deflect heavily wide.

21 minPoor from Ronaldo - and it is not often you can say that! Gelson Martins was waiting on his outside, but he delayed it a little and, after his teammate held his run, over hit the ball straight out of play. Not happening for him and his side so far.

23 minA penalty shout for the visitors is rejected. Fonte won a header in the box and knocked it down, only for Nikita Kolesovs's hand to get in the way. Harsh had it been given but referees so often point to the spot in those situations.

25 minSAVE! For the first time tonight Ronaldo wriggles free of his man, uses some upper body strength and sends a well-hit shot down the middle. Andris Vanins produced a good stop to help it over the bar - his first meaningful action of the game.

27 minFast approaching the half-hour mark in Riga and it has been a fairly balanced match on the whole. Portugal the more dominant over the past five minutes, testing Vanins with a long-range drive through Ronaldo a few moments ago.

29 minLatvia's latest attack comes to little, with Patricio happy to let the ball trickle out of play for a goal-kick. Silva taken out by Gorkss and Ronaldo takes the free kick quickly, but Cedric's eventual cross is well overhit.

31 minI would say that Starkovs will be the happier of the two managers at this point. Latvia started strongly before fading, but a Ronaldo shot aside they have not had an awful lot to do up the other end of the field.

33 minGROUP B UPDATE! A shock result on our hands elsewhere in Group B, potentially, as minnows Andorra lead Hungary. Portugal will not fear being caught by the Hungarians in second, but Latvia will hold out hope of overtaking them.

35 minStill Latvia knock the ball down with little care. Portugal will not be all that concerned at this stage, but the longer it remains goalless the more impatient they will grow. No denying that they are the team in the ascendancy at the moment.

37 minSAVE! Ronaldo growing more and more into the game. The Real Madrid forward tests Andris Vanins for a second time in the space of 10 minutes, this time looking to pick out the bottom corner with a shot that is well saved.

39 minGROUP B UPDATE! Breakthrough for Switzerland away to Faroe Islands, meaning that they currently have a four-point advantage at the top. Glebs Kluskins has been shown yellow for a sliding challenge on Guerreiro.

41 minRonaldo furious at the referee after another challenge went unpunished. Letter of the law says that should be a yellow to the Real Madrid man for waving an imaginary card in the official's face. He is starting to get a little riled!

42 minGOAL! LATVIA 0-1 PORTUGAL (CRISTIANO RONALDO)

43 minPerhaps just about deserved on the basis of what we have witnessed so far, Portugal are ahead in Riga. Gomes's cross was met by Fonte at the back post, heading the ball against the frame of the goal. Who was there waiting for the tap-in? Ronaldo. Always Ronaldo!

45 minPortugal will take a slender lead into the break thanks to that Ronaldo goal, then, but still plenty to think about in the second half. Latvia have given a good account of themselves, albeit without seriously testing Patricio in goal.

45+1 minHALF TIME: LATVIA 0-1 PORTUGAL

8.34pmPortugal lead by a goal to nil at the interval in Riga, courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo's 601st career goal right on the brink of half time. A fairly balanced match on the whole, though Portugal did carve out the better openings and probably deserve their lead at this midway point at the Skonto Stadium.

8.37pmLatvia, on a five-match losing run heading into this match, started the better side without asking too many questions of opposition stopper Rui Patricio. When the Sporting Lisbon stopper was finally called into action 15 minutes in, he barely had to break his stride to keep out a rather audacious attempt from Valerijs Sabala. Confidence certainly was not lacking as far as the hosts were concerned, though, and Portugal took time to get build any sort of momentum in the Latvian capital.

8.40pmWith nearly a quarter of the game played the European champions finally began to show some of their attacking quality, testing Andris Vanins through a Bruno Alves header and then once more from Cristiano Ronaldo's 25-yard drive. Ronaldo, frustrated by a series of unpunished challenges, grew more and more into the contest and finally made a telling difference on the brink of the interval.

8.43pmAndre Gomes sent a cross into a deep position, where Jose Fonte was waiting to meet the cross with his head. The ball hit the post but bounced into the path of Ronaldo, who was there to head home from a yard out to bring up his 601st career goal, six days on from guiding Real Madrid to Champions League joy in Cardiff. Ronaldo has been the only real threat in this first half - not for the first time, of course - but will that remain the case after the break?

Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euro 2016 Group F game between Portugal and Iceland on June 14, 2016© AFP


46 minRESTART! Latvia gets us back under way in Riga. Much like in the reverse fixture, Portugal lead at this point but they were pegged back and had to do things the hard way at the Estadio Algarve. Will we see something similar here?

48 minPortugal already looking brighter in this second half, getting a few crosses into the box which are dealt with. A Fonte howler allows the hosts to spring into attack, but they are unable to make the most of the opening.

50 minThe Selecao looking a little more lively since the restart, then, but also giving up chances at the back. This one is far from over, but Latvia need to make the most of any chances that come their way. A big 40 minutes ahead!

52 minSAVE! Nice passing play from the visitors, who are now able to remain a little more patient. Passes galore at the moment, and this latest move ends with Ronaldo testing Vanins with a decent attempt that is helped aside.

54 minYELLOW CARD! Vanins, under a little pressure from a corner into the box, elects to punch the ball rather than collecting. Latvia break and Gelson Martins cynically brings down his opponent to rightly earn the game's second caution.

56 minSAVE! From the free kick, Olegs Laizans goes with what is best described as a Ronaldo-esque attempt. The ball flies through the air, from all but 30 yards out, and is tipped over the bar by Patricio. That Portugal lead is very slender!

58 minSAVE! Well the shot count is starting to pile up now - 17 in all at both ends, four resulting in saves from Vanins. This latest one is the easiest of the lot, keeping out Ronaldo at the near post. Quaresma is on for Martins.

60 minReal lively start to this second half. A corner from the right is nodded down to Carvalho, who just could not wrap his boot around the ball. Portugal really could do with a second just so that they can breathe a little easier.

62 minGOAL! LATVIA 0-2 PORTUGAL (CRISTIANO RONALDO)

63 minMake that 602 career goals for Ronaldo, as he is gifted another simple finish from close range. Quaresma's right-sided cross is deflected into the air and the Real Madrid ace is there to help the ball over the line. He cannot stop scoring!

65 minGROUP B UPDATE! Andorra still, rather surprisingly, lead Hungary. More importantly as far as the Selecao are concerned, Switzerland are now two up in the Faroe Islands and will remain top of the standings come full time.

67 minGOAL! LATVIA 0-3 PORTUGAL (ANDRE SILVA)

68 minLatvia caught in possession by Silva, who plays a one-two with Ronaldo and slots the ball home to seal the three points for Portugal. Game over now following what has been a real dominant second-half showing from the European champions.

70 minRonaldo goes down in the box and is looking for a penalty. He was growing increasingly frustrated in the first half but none of that here, knowing that his two goals have put Portugal well on course for all three points here.

72 minSUBS! Cedric, who picked up a knock a little earlier, is replaced by Semedo at right-back. The hosts also make a change, bringing on Vardanjans for Kazacocks. Now into the final quarter of the match and this one is as good as over.

74 minGoal difference may well pay a part if Switzerland remain neck-and-neck at the top of Group B, so Portugal may see this as a chance to bag one or two more. Ronaldo remains on the pitch so that always remains a possibility.

76 minGROUP B UPDATE! No change to the scoreline elsewhere in Group B, so as things stand Switzerland will remain top on 18 points; Portugal second on 15; Latvia bottom on three points. Andorra with a mammoth result at home.

78 minPORTUGAL SUBS! So much quality on the Portugal bench. He may have his critics, but one of those options is now on, as Nani replaced Silva for the final 12 minutes or so in Riga. All one-way traffic now as the visitors are well on top.

80 minPortugal still pressing for that fourth goal of the evening, which will bolster their goal difference a little more. Things have gone expected at the top of Group B tonight - the Selecao and Switzerland, three points in front, both winning.

82 minLatvia legs starting to tire more and more by the minute. For the first 15 minutes or so of this game they were great; the next 30 competitive; the 35 or so since then very flat. Very understandable in the circumstances!

84 minNo real rush for Portugal to push for that fourth goal of the night. A three-nil win here is a good enough result, even if their opponents have lost five in a row, so now they can look ahead to the Confederations Cup.

86 minNot a great deal happening at the moment, which has been the case pretty much since the third goal went in. The first half was tough going for the Selecao, but since then they have been dominant and deserve their comfortable win.

88 minJust a couple of minutes left to play in Riga. Portugal do not look as though they will add to their tally over the remaining seconds, with this match rather petering out. Short stoppage in play as a youngster attempts to take a selfie with Ronaldo.

90 minGot a couple of minutes of added time left to play at the Skonto Stadium. Portugal boss Fernando Santos will be delighted with this result - three goals away from home is a positive result, ensuring that they remain within three points of the Swiss.

90+2 minFULL TIME: LATVIA 0-3 PORTUGAL

9.42pmThe full-time whistle sounds in Riga, meaning a straightforward victory for Portugal. After a tight opening 30 minutes or so, the European champions stepped things up and took the lead on the brink of the interval, before adding two more in a dominant second half. Latvia now slip to the bottom of the Group B standings due to Andorra's win over Hungary elsewhere tonight.

9.44pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events at the Skonto Stadium. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, while reports from a select few other games can be seen by clicking here. Thanks for joining!

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Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring during the Euro 2016 Group F match between Hungary and Portugal on June 22, 2016
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