Portugal survived a nervy final to edge closer to the World Cup with a 3-1 win over Turkey, who missed a late penalty that could have forced extra time in their playoff semi-final on Thursday.
Screamed by a sold-out Dragao Stadium in Porto, Portugal dominated the game from the start and led 2-0 in the first half after Otavio scored a goal and created another for Diogo Jota.
But Fernando Santos’ side were overtaken by a 65th-minute goal from Burak Yilmaz that put the Portuguese fans on the edge of their seat as Turkey began to threaten.
Defender Jose Fonte then fouled Enes Unal inside the box in the 85th minute to concede a penalty, but Yilmaz fired high over the bar.
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Portugal substitute Matheus Nunes then relieved the pressure on the hosts in injury time with their third goal from a counterattack.
“I wasn’t mad at the team, but we played with fire today,” Santos told reporters.
“We had the game under control but we slowed down. Obviously players are not machines, we failed to score for 3-0 and those things can happen in football. But I’m glad that “We reacted very well. That moment (the penalty) could have been difficult for us.”
After missing out on automatic qualification in November, Portugal will now host North Macedonia on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Portugal expected to face Italy but were shocked by a 1-0 loss to North Macedonia in the other semi-final in Palermo, depriving fans of a much-anticipated showdown between the two last European champions.
Portugal started strong, scoring twice in the first half with the result looking like a doom before the break.
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Otavio, a Brazilian-born Porto midfielder, was included in the starting squad by surprise, and provided Portugal’s main attacking threat.
He scored on a 15th-minute rebound after a Bernardo Silva shot returned from the post and just before half-time he crossed from the right flank for Jota to aim an unstoppable header into the net.
But Portugal eased off in the second half and allowed the visitors into the game.
Yilmaz scored after a one-two with Cengiz Under and was lucky enough to equalize from the spot after the video assistant referee spotted a foul in the penalty area but sent his effort flying over the top. bar.