After securing their spot for the Round of 16 phases, Portugal will emphasise finishing as group winners in Group H as they are set to battle it out against South Korea who face a tough road to qualify for the knockouts.
After a thrilling game against Ghana which ended in a 3-2 victory for Fernando Santos’ team, Portugal calmly disposed of Uruguay courtesy of a brace from Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes. Two goals in quick succession from Cho Gue-Sung helped Korea fight back from 2-0 down against Ghana but their joy was short-lived as one of the emerging stars from this World Cup, Mohammed Kudus netted his second of the match in the 68th minute to win the game.
South Korea now have to win their match against Portugal while needing Ghana not to beat Uruguay, and hope goal difference swings their way, to progress to the knockouts.
Portugal took the lead with their first shot on target versus La Celeste as Bruno Fernandes’ cross ended up in the back of the net, although Cristiano Ronaldo tried to claim the goal having swung his head at the ball. Uruguay came close with efforts and had the same number (3) of shots on target as their opponents but lacked a clinical edge. A handball decision went against Jose Maria Gimenez in the 90th minute and Bruno Fernandes made no mistake from the spot to grab his brace from the day. Portugal will win the group with a draw here, while a defeat would also be enough if Ghana fail to win against Uruguay.
Results from their last 5 fixtures:
South Korea: L D W W D
Portugal: W W W L W
An unchanged eleven is expected to be named by Paulo Bento (who will be suspended after confronting referee Anthony Taylor at full-time against Ghana) for South Korea provided no further last-minute injuries occur to his players ahead of the match against Portugal. Meanwhile, Fernando Santos faces a dilemma with injuries piling up. Defender Danilo Pereira suffered three broken ribs in training ahead of their fixture against Uruguay and is now set for a long time on the sidelines while left-back Nuno Mendes is also set to be out of this fixture as he suffered an injury against Uruguay.
South Korea: S. Kim; M.H Kim, M. Kim, Y. Kim, J. Kim; Jung, Hwang; Kwon, Jeong, Son; Cho
Portugal: Costa; Cancelo, Guerreiro, Pepe, Dias; Neves, Silva, Palhinha; Fernandez; Ronaldo, Leao
GWFN | Trambak Bhattacherjee