Portugal beats Malta, reaches World Cup playoffs

October 14, 2009

Portugal won its third straight World Cup qualifier and advanced to the European playoffs, beating Malta 4-0 Wednesday night as Nani scored one goal and assisted on another. Simao Sabrosa, Miguel Veloso and Edinho also scored for Portugal (5-1-4), which finished second in Group One with 19 points, two behind Denmark (6-1-3). The Danes clinched the automatic berth last weekend. The eight playoff teams will be drawn into four pairs on Monday, and the four winners of home-and-home, total-goals matches on Nov. 14 and 18 will qualify for next year's tournament in South Africa. Nani started in place of FIFA player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, who injured an ankle in Saturday's 3-0 victory over Hungary. Nani scored on a left-footed volley in the 14th minute, Sabrosa doubled the lead in the 45th and Veloso scored off Nani's cross in the 52nd. Edinio scored in the 90th.