Ronaldo denied as Portugal held by Spain


Lisbon (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo hit the crossbar as Portugal and Spain played out a goalless draw in a compelling friendly in Lisbon on Wednesday. 

Ronaldo and Renato Sanchez both struck the woodwork for Portugal, who then should have won it in injury-time only for Joao Felix to miskick at the back post. 

Spain were the better team early on at the Jose Alvalade stadium and also went close through Dani Olmo but neither side were able to claim victory ahead of upcoming games in the Nations League. 

Both sit top of their groups, Portugal with maximum points after beating Croatia and Sweden while Spain have four after thrashing Ukraine and drawing with Germany. 

Spain go up against Switzerland on Saturday before playing against Ukraine three days later. Portugal face world champions France on Sunday and then play at home to Sweden. 

During the first half, it was also announced by the football federations of the two countries they will be staging a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. 

They will be competing against Morocco, as well as another joint bid between Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile. 

The last time Spain and Portugal met was for the thrilling 3-3 draw at the 2018 World Cup, when Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, including a stunning late equaliser from a free-kick. 

This was a far less dramatic contest, with both teams still rebuilding ahead of next year’s postponed European Championships. 

Spain coach Luis Enrique fielded an especially experimental eleven, which included Chelsea’s struggling goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Manchester City’s 19-year-old central defender Eric Garcia and the newly called-up Sergio Canales in midfield. 

For Portugal, the 20-year-old Francisco Trincao, who has just joined Barcelona, started in a front three with Ronaldo and Andre Silva. 

Spain enjoyed a superb opening quarter of an hour but had nothing to show for it, as Gerard Moreno missed from close range and Olmo volleyed wide. 

Olmo looked like he might give Spain the lead in the second half but his finish was well saved by the legs of Rui Patricio and it was Portugal who went closest later on. 

Ronaldo shifted onto his left foot on the edge of the area and thundered a shot against the crossbar. He then turned provider, curving a pass right to Renato, whose effort also crashed against the frame and bounced down out.

The best chance though fell to Felix in injury-time, the ball finding him free at the back post, only for the youngster to slide towards it and fail to connect.

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