29th November, 2022
Bruno Fernandes claimed “I don’t really think it matters” after being credited the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Uruguay to secure Portugal’s World Cup last-16 place.
The Manchester United midfielder scored twice as Fernando Santos’ side guaranteed their passage into the knockout stage with a match to spare after downing Uruguay at Lusail Stadium.
Portugal’s opener was initially credited to Cristiano Ronaldo, who appeared to faintly glance home Fernandes’ 54th-minute cross, but FIFA eventually intervened and awarded it to the latter.
Fernandes sealed the points from the penalty spot in the closing stages and is now focused on securing top spot in Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea on Friday.
“I don’t really think it matters who scored the goal at this point,” he said when asked about Portugal’s first strike. “The feeling I had at the time was that Cristiano touched the ball. I was passing the ball to him.
“But what’s important is that we were able to go on to the next round after a very important win against a tough opponent.
“The importance of being first [in Group H] includes winning the next game, which would allow us to come out of the group undefeated with three wins, and that’s what we want.
“We know we will find a very well-organised [South Korea] team ahead of us. Our objective is to think match after match – to win all the ones in the group phase, we still have one ahead of us.
“We have to do our very best because we want to win all the matches.”
Santos hopes Portugal can finish the job to top Group H, having won their opening two World Cup games for only the third time – also achieving the feat in 1966 and 2006 in runs to the semi-final stage.
The Portugal head coach saluted his players, while he also revealed that Nuno Mendes will be assessed in “24 hours” after limping off during the first half.
“All our team have a great performance,” Santos said. “The game was difficult, our opponent was difficult.
“In the second half, we managed to play as we are used to; despite the fact that the Uruguayan players were playing very well.
“Our players responded with purpose, and we managed to win with fair play. We have a feeling of satisfaction as we can move to the next stage.
“[Two wins from two is] exactly what I wanted for my team. As I said back in Portugal, our team is very united, we have a very good team building, and now we are given the answers to what was asked of us.
“There is still a match to be played; we need to be careful with our considerations. We do want to be first [in Group H], but we are not first yet. As a result, we need to continue improving on our tactics.”