Micael’s goals give Portugal 2-0 win over Finland
Ruben Micael scored twice in his first international start, giving Portugal a 2-0 victory over Finland in a friendly on Tuesday.
Micael, an FC Porto midfielder, tapped in from short range in the 10th and 70th minutes.
But a long string of squandered chances against a much less distinguished opponent did little to build Portugal’s confidence ahead of a crucial 2012 European Championship qualifier, causing some in the home crowd to jeer the team.
Playing without injured Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal struggled to make making its dominance tell and largely disappointed again after last weekend’s lackluster 1-1 draw with Chile.
A counterattack just before halftime exposed Portugal’s problems, as five strikers went up against two Finnish defenders but couldn’t put the ball in the net.
Portugal chose Finland for the friendly to prepare for a Euro 2012 qualifier in June against Norway, which tops Group H, three points ahead of the Portuguese and Denmark.
Portugal has a 4-1-1 record under coach Paulo Bento, who replaced Carlos Queiroz after a disastrous start to the campaign.
Portugal changed almost its full starting lineup from the Chile game, with only midfielders Carlos Martins and Raul Meireles and defender Fabio Coentrao keeping their place.
Micael slid in at the back post to poke in a low cross from the right by Ricardo Quaresma for his opener. He completed his dream debut when he converted Nani’s cross with 20 minutes to play and just as Finland looked poised to take advantage of Portugal’s hesitance in front of goal.
Finland goalkeeper Otto Fredrikson couldn’t hold a powerful free kick from Carlos Martins in the 23rd and, as the ball bobbled around, Danny tried a bicycle kick that flew wide.
Just after the half-hour, Mika Vayrynen got clear of the Portuguese defense and volleyed over the bar in a warning shot for the home team’s defense.
Finnish substitute Riku Riski headed just wide in the 54th. Then Fabio Coentrao broke into the Finnish area from the left and fired a fierce shot at Fredrikson, and Nelson did the same from the right in the 66th.
Portugal: Eduardo; Nelson, Pepe (Ricardo Carvalho, 78), Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao (Silvio, 61); Raul Meireles (Paulo Machado, 61), Carlos Martins (Joao Moutinho, 45), Ruben Micael (Andre Santos, 75); Danny, Hugo Almeida, Ricardo Quaresma (Nani, 68).
Otto Fredrikson; Petri Pasanen, Jukka Raitala, Mika Vayrynen (Tim Sparv, 73), Roman Eremenko (Joona Toivio, 86); Perparim Hetemaj (Sebastian Mannstrom, 63), Daniel Sjolund (Roni Porokara, 45), Markus Heikkinen, Kari Arkivuo; Berat Sadik (Mikael Forssell, 72), Alexei Eremenko (Riku Riski, 45).