By Portuguese football expert Alex Goncalves
In what was a disappointing result for the national team, few players did themselves true justice for Portugal in their 0-0 draw with Ukraine.
While Portugal dominated the possession and looked to break through a stubborn Ukrainian backline, the movement and final ball always seemed off and Ukraine deserved their draw.
The obvious standout performers from a Portuguese perspective were Pepe and Ruben Dias at the back; while Ukraine had few chances overall, the centre-back pairing were crucial in limiting their goalscoring opportunities and looked solid throughout the game when required.
William Carvalho was, as he so often is, another player that stood out, his composure on the ball and the confidence he exudes always on show, while Bernardo Silva and João Cancelo disappointed.
With regards to the Wolves players, a bit of a mixed bag overall.
Rui Patricio, Portugal’s undisputed number one, had a quiet game, not really tested until the closing minutes of the affair.
When he was needed though, he ultimately failed, the usual Mr Consistent very nearly costing his side the match with just five minutes left on the clock.
It came after a hopeful long-range effort from Konoplyanka as Ukraine looked to earn the ultimate snatch and grab in Lisbon.
Patricio produced a save that was far from convincing, the Wolves goalkeeper parrying what was a relatively tame and central effort straight back into the danger area, gifting Ukraine what would have been an easy goal and all three points, but for some heroic defending from Ruben Dias to rescue Patricio, who hasn’t quite looked like his convincing self in recent weeks.
Ruben Neves, on the other hand, did what was asked of him effectively, and protected the defence well in the 62 minutes he was asked to play.
Operating in a more disciplined midfield role, he showed his tackling prowess and was defensively assured while still having a decent impact going forwards, playing some nice forward passes and chipping in with one or two long-range shots, albeit without testing the goalkeeper.
He did, however, look as if he set up the first goal of the game after a quarter of an hour, delivering an inch-perfect cross for Carvalho to head home, but for the offside flag to go up.
Overall, a good job from the 22-year old, who has become a regular for Portugal under Fernando Santos.
And you know it’s just not your day when João Moutinho doesn’t look quite at his scintillating best.
The central midfielder was by no means poor – far from it in fact – working hard in the middle of the park and generally commanding the game with both passing and tackling, although his deliveries from deadball situations and open play, like every other Portugal player on the pitch, was lacking somewhat.
A decent performance overall, but not as good as we’ve seen him for Wolves this season.
Diogo Jota, meanwhile, did not feature at all for the Seleçao – though he may not have too long to wait for his senior debut, with Serbia up next on Monday.
It will be a crucial game for Portugal, who can’t really afford another home slip-up in their bid to defend their European crown.