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Underwhelming Portugal need own goal to beat minnows Azerbaijan

FOOTBALL By Reuters | March 25th 2021 | 1 min read
Football - World Cup Qualifiers Europe - Group A - Portugal v Azerbaijan - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - March 24, 2021. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo talks to Bruno Fernandes. [REUTERS/Massimo Pinca]

Portugal produced a rusty display in their opening World Cup qualifier at home to Azerbaijan on Wednesday but still made a winning start with a 1-0 victory in Turin.

Maksim Medvedev fumbled the ball into his own net after a mix-up with goalkeeper Shahrudin Mahammadaliyev to break the deadlock in the 37th minute of a game moved to Juventus' stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel to Portugal.

Portugal dominated possession but could not break down Azerbaijan again despite having 29 attempts on goal, 14 of which hit the target.

All-time scorer Cristiano Ronaldo had eight attempts on goal but had a frustrating evening at his home stadium for the second time in four games after Juventus' shock 1-0 defeat by Serie A strugglers Benevento on Sunday.

Ronaldo went closest with a late free kick which was tipped away by keeper Mahammadaliyev, who was kept busy all evening and repelled second-half efforts from substitutes Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix.

Portugal visit Serbia on Saturday in their next Group A game while Azerbaijan face World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar in a friendly before hosting Serbia in their second qualifier. 

Other matches [Photo: Courtesy]
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