Portugal hold Brazil to a goalless draw

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DURBAN, South Africa: Portugal qualified for the second round of the World Cup after battling to an ill-tempered 0-0 draw with five-time champions Brazil in their final Group G game on Friday.

In a match that was hyped as a potential showcase for the "beautiful game", there was not much samba on display with seven yellow cards brandished in the first-half alone and only a handful of decent attempts on goal.

Brazil, who had already qualified for the last 16 after wins over North Korea and Ivory Coast, dominated possession and looked extremely solid at the back while Portugal looked over-reliant on captain Cristiano Ronaldo up front.

Portugal, on a run of 17 matches without defeat, needed a draw to guarantee going through to the next round ahead of Ivory Coast and arguably had the best chance of a winner in the 60th minute.

A storming run by Ronaldo had Lucio in all kinds of problems and the Brazil skipper was forced into clearing the ball across his own six-yard box into the path of Raul Meireles.

But the Porto midfielder’s close-range dink was tipped around the corner by Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

Brazil dominated possession and wasted two excellent chances through Nilmar and Luis Fabiano in the first-half.

In the 30th minute, Nilmar got in at the back post to direct a Fabiano cross at Portugal goalkeeper Eduardo, who did well to turn the ball onto the post and safety.

Fabiano then fluffed a header nine minutes later, getting too much contact on a downward header which bounced wide from a deep Maicon cross.

The industrious Dani Alves had the first attempt of the game, striking a 25-yard shot just wide after a good through ball from Julio Baptista, starting in place of suspended Brazilian playmaker Kaka.

The Portuguese had to wait until the 14th minute to even get close to the Brazilian goal, Duda just failing to latch on to a good cross from Fabio Coentrao, who had the run of the left wing early on.

The South Americans were seemingly happy to sit back and control the ball in the second period, under no real pressure from a muted Portugal attack.

Ronaldo had an early free-kick deflected wide by Pepe and Simao, on as a replacement for Duda, had a smart shot saved by Cesar.

In the 77th minute, Ronaldo got on the end of a Simao through-ball but blasted high and wide under pressure.

Portugal keeper Eduardo was then on hand to palm away a late effort from replacement Ramires to save any blushes amid boos and whistles at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

SoccerPunter Analyst Comments:

It was a very boring match despite the big names in both sides.

Both teams seems to be playing for a draw as Brazil did not field their strongest line-up and Portuguese required only a point to qualify for next round.

It is important to note that Portugal have not conceded a goal in their last 26 games and they kept a clean sheet in their last 22 encounters.

Spain will be no easy opponents for Portuguese and we feel that the Spanish side has a higher probability to win.

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