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Santos pleased with Portugal’s confidence-boosting win

Fernando Santos , Portugal
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Fernando Santos was happy with Portugal’s “solid” 4-2 win over Serbia, and hopes it will propel them to another victory on Tuesday.

After drawing their first two Group B games, Portugal finally registered that first win on Saturday night.

William Carvalho gave the European champions a first-half lead before Goncalo Guedes scored after the break. The Valencia winger’s strike, though, was just the first of five goals in a thrilling second-half.

Nikola Milenkovic pulled one back for Serbia to keep Portugal on their toes until Cristiano Ronaldo scored.

The Juventus star, who was largely subdued at the beginning, came to life in the second-half and nearly scored twice. However, a Bernardo Silva pass allowed Ronaldo to cooly dink the ball over keeper Marko Dmitrovic to restore Portugal’s two-goal lead.

While Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 85th-minute goal looked to set-up a tense ending, Silva scored a minute later to wrap up all three points for Portugal.

“We showed a lot of creativity and attacking intent in a solid performance required to beat a very good Serbia side,” Santos told reporters afterwards.

“Getting the opening goal just before halftime was vital and in the second half we controlled the game. We stifled their excellent midfield and deserved the win.”

Portugal have now moved up to second place in Group B on five points from three games. Although leaders Ukraine, who have played two more matches, are already eight points ahead.

Luxembourg and Serbia, meanwhile, are tied in third place on four points from four matches.

Therefore, Santos is aware that victory against bottom-placed side Lithuania is crucial for his men.

“This win should boost our confidence ahead of Tuesday’s visit to Lithuania,” added the Portugal boss.

“Nothing less than a win will do because it’s a complicated group.”