Portugal defeats North Macedonia 2-0 thanks to a Fernandes brace. Qatar is a location.

Portugal qualified for the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 win over North Macedonia, thanks to a brace by Bruno Fernandes.

North Macedonia traveled to Porto fresh off a stunning victory against Italy, but it will be Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates who will be in action in Qatar.

When it came to Palermo last week, North Macedonia had kept things tight and taken their chances, but a costly error by Stefan Ristovski saw them go behind this time.

Fernandes took full advantage of the situation, scoring in the 32nd minute before doubling his tally with a stunning 65th-minute half-volley to guarantee Portugal maintained their record of qualifying for every World Cup since the turn of the century.

When Ronaldo sprinted onto Otavio’s pass in the 14th minute, it appeared that Portugal would score, but he dragged wide when one-on-one with Stole Dimitrievski.

North Macedonia had otherwise kept Portugal at bay, but Diogo Jota’s header over the bar from Fernandes’ corner could have been better.

However, it was a blunder that allowed Portugal to take the lead. After receiving a beautiful assist from Ronaldo, Fernandes pounced on Ristovski’s weak pass and picked out the bottom-left corner.

Before halftime, Jota sliced a close-range shot wide as a chance for 2-0 went begging, but Fernandes did not make the same error after the hour.

Pepe’s stunning block stopped a North Macedonia effort and started a quick counter, with Fernandes avoiding the offside trap and wonderfully steering in Jota’s cross.

The crowd’s fears were calmed, and Fernando Santos’ team was allowed to relax after their hard struggle for qualification was succeeded.

The main disappointment for the fans was Ronaldo’s failure to convert two late chances, one after a Fernandes cross and the other after an amazing run by Rafael Leao stopped his path to goal.

What does this imply? Heavyweights reserve their seats.

The UEFA qualification play-offs Path C draw always promised that at least one European footballing giant – and, indeed, one of the previous two Euro winners – would miss out on a berth in Qatar.

Germany, England, Spain, France, and the other European nations that had already qualified were ecstatic to see Italy lose to North Macedonia, but lightning never seemed to strike twice for the minnows, who can at least remember their great victory over the Azzurri.

Ronaldo is on track to break his own World Cup record.

Unless he is forced to withdraw due to injury, Ronaldo will play in his fifth World Cup, equaling the record set by Antonio Carbajal, Rafael Marquez, Lothar Matthaus, and Gianluigi Buffon, though the latter did not play in the 1998 tournament despite being named to Italy’s squad.

Ronaldo’s final chance to become a global champion on the international stage will almost certainly come at the age of 37.

Minnows just do not have enough.

Of course, Ristovski’s miscalculation cost North Macedonia dearly, but in the end, North Macedonia lacked the finesse and quality in attack to worry Portugal.

In actuality, they only managed three shots, none of which tested Diogo Costa, the home goalie.

What comes next?

In June, Portugal will face Spain in the Nations League, while North Macedonia will face Bulgaria.

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