World Cup

Portugal secures playoff spot

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Portugal secured second place in World Cup qualifying Group F and a playoff spot after they beat 10-man Luxembourg 3-0 on Tuesday.

WHERE THEY STAND

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Silvestre Varela put Portugal ahead on the half hour mark, two minutes after Aurelien Joachim had been sent off fo the visitors.

Nani added the second in the 36th minute before Helder Postiga seal the win, but Portugal's place in next year's tournament in Brazil is now dependent on them winning a two-legged play-off against another second-placed team.

Portugal dominated the game and Manchester United midfielder Nani went close in the ninth minute when he forced a save from Luxembourg goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert.

Nani struck the ball from the right of the area and Joubert parried the ball, which fell to Postiga, who was denied by the stopper from 18 yards.

Joao Moutinho then tried his luck, but his weak shot was put over the bar with a touch from the busy Joubert.

Luxembourg striker Daniel da Mota put a chance over the bar at the other end, but Portugal were soon on the attack again, with Fabio Coentrao's header hitting the bar from Andre Almeida's cross in the 14th minute.

Nani went close again when his close range header was tipped over by Joubert, who was single-handedly keeping his side in the game.

However, Luxembourg's resistance faltered soon after, when Moutinho sent Varela racing through on goal with a deft pass.

The striker's dummy fooled Joubert, allowing him to slide the ball into the unguarded net.

ROAD LESS TAKEN

Check out all the best action shots from FIFA's World Cup qualifying.

The goal was a second blow for the visitors after they had Joachim sent off for a foul on Almeida only two minutes earlier.

Nani then rubbed salt in the wound when Moutinho put him in on goal with a back-heel, allowing the midfielder to smash it into the roof of the net from nine yards.

Portugal kept up the pace after the break, with Postiga and Nani both going close early in the second half.

In fact, the Portugal fans in Coimbra would have been left wondering why they had not seen more goals, as the home side created a hatful of chances but were wasteful in their finishing.

Postiga finally found the third in the 78th minute when he tapped home from Josue's free-kick to wrap up the win.

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