Portugal 4-0 Israel: Defending champions warm up for Euros with big win

By Sports Desk June 09, 2021

Portugal warmed up for the start of the European Championship with a convincing 4-0 win over Israel.

In their final friendly game before the delayed tournament gets under way, Fernando Santos' side sent out a warning to their rivals with a dominant performance.

Bruno Fernandes was on target with a double, while there were also goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo to give Portugal a boost ahead of a Group F campaign that will see them face world champions France and Germany.

The Portuguese were at it from the first whistle, with Ronaldo producing an uncharacteristically weak shot after working space in the box less than a minute after kick-off.

And Diogo Jota was equally wasteful in powering a left-footed effort wide from a similar position before heading over a Cancelo cross shortly after.

But the hosts had their breakthrough just before half-time, Fernandes controlling Cancelo's low cut-back into the bottom-left corner.

The Manchester United man then turned provider, playing Ronaldo in behind for a powerful finish that squeezed through Israel goalkeeper Ofir Marciano to give the hosts a deserved 2-0 half-time lead.

Santos' men should have been three clear on the hour mark but Bernardo Silva fluffed his lines in attempting a dinked finish after being played in by Ronaldo.

However, Cancelo capped a good night for the hosts in the 87th minute as he cut inside off the right before powering a low left-footed shot home.

And Fernandes added deserved gloss to the scoreline with a wonderful strike from long range in injury time that left Marciano rooted to the spot.

What does it mean? Portugal in with a shout

Amid all the hype around the likes of England, France and Belgium, Portugal seem to be consistently overlooked as potential winners of this year's European Championship.

But the defending champions have a fine mix of experience and youth, the guaranteed goals of Ronaldo, and plenty of tournament know-how from 2016.

As they proved in dominating Israel here, they will be a force to be reckoned with in defending their crown.

Cancelo brings club form

Portugal aren't short of quality in forward areas but, if any opponent manages to somehow shut that down, it is good for the manager to know he has threats elsewhere on the pitch.

As he proved here, right-back Cancelo is one of them, the Manchester City man grabbing a goal and an assist as well as laying on three key passes.

Jota place under pressure

A two-game goalless run in a Portugal shirt hardly counts as a drought, but Jota will know he cannot waste chances as he did on Wednesday and hope to keep his place during the Euros.

The Liverpool forward failed to find the target with two big opportunities in his 45 minutes on the pitch and, with the likes of Joao Felix, Goncalo Guedes and Andre Silva behind him in the pecking order, is by no means a guaranteed starter.

What's next? 

Portugal get the defence of their title under way against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday. Israel, meanwhile, are without a competitive game until World Cup qualifying resumes in September.

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