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Fernando Santos: Portugal and Ukraine match is a final

Fernando Santos, Portugal,Luxembourg, Ukraine, Euro 2020
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Fernando Santos admits Portugal already have one eye on Monday’s “final” against Ukraine after comfortably beating Luxembourg 3-0 in a Euro 2020 qualifier.

Despite a sluggish start to their Euro 2020 qualification campaign, Santos’ Portugal have now closed to within five points of Group B leaders Ukraine having made it five wins in a row after seeing off Luxembourg.

The European champions also have a crucial game in hand over Ukraine. Therefore, victory in Kiev on Monday night could set them on their way to snatch top spot in the group standings.

And Friday’s win would’ve served as the perfect warm-up for Portugal, who took an early lead through Bernardo Silva.

Cristiano Ronaldo then chipped the ball over Luxembourg goalkeeper Anthony Moris for Portugal’s second in the 65th-minute. It was the captain’s 94th international goal, and leaves him just one shy of the 700 career goal mark.

Substitute Goncalo Guedes then settled the match by adding a last-minute goal for the hosts in Lisbon.

But Santos felt his players lost focus against Luxembourg after Ronaldo put Portugal two goals up. Apparently, their focus shifted to what he deems as a top-of-the-table shootout against Ukraine.

“It will definitely be like a final,” the Navigators boss told Sport TV.

“We had a very good first 25 minutes today, playing well and disrupting the Luxembourg team.

“From then we made the game more predictable and Luxembourg forced us to run around.

“In the second half we got in better, we made the second goal and from there the players had their heads in Ukraine – even myself, which is not normal for me. I started thinking about it and doing effort management.”

Santos’ side can also book their spot in next summer’s tournament with a win in Ukraine as long as third-placed side Serbia fail to beat Lithuania.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, Luxembourg, 700 goals
PORTO, PORTUGAL – JUNE 09: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.