FARO, Portugal, Aug 15 (Reuters) - A hat-trick from Luis Figo drove Portugal to a 3-0 victory over a combative Moldovan side in a friendly international on Wednesday.
Portuguese manager Toni Oliveira said the game was
satisfactory preparation for their World Cup group two
qualifiers against Cyprus and Andorra in September.
'The Moldovan team gave us quite a few problems, but we
closed up spaces and prevailed,' he said. 'You can tell, and it
was to be expected, that not all of our players are fully fit
yet. But the next two games are to be won.'
'We are 270 minutes away from qualifying, and that includes
the final game with Estonia on October 10,' Oliveira added.
Moldova surprised Portugal with several fast counter-attacks
and created the first real scoring chance of the game after six
minutes when midfielder Serghei Covalciuc shot just wide of the
right post from the edge of the penalty area.
'Portugal played openly and made use of their great
international experience, but judging by the spectators'
reactions, we played well,' said Alexandr Spiridow, after his
first game as Moldovan trainer.
Portugal then began to dominate play with their passing
game. Striker Joao Pinto came close to scoring in the 18-th
minute, but hit the ball just wide of the right post after
receiving a long cross from team mate Nuno Gomes.
Moldova's defending became increasingly nervous at the end
of the first half, and conceded a penalty, when striker Serghei
Clescenco pulled Portuguese forward Nuno Gomes' shirt.
Figo converted the 43rd-minute spotkick tucking the ball
just inside the right post to send goalkeeper Denis Romanenco
the wrong way.
Greek referee Georgios Borovilos denied Moldova a chance to
draw level in the final minutes of the first half when Clescenco
was brought down in the Portuguese penalty area by defender
Figo bagged Portugal's second goal in the 61st minute, again
from the spot, after Moldova midfielder Igor Oprea tugged
Armando Petit's shirt.
Rui Costa beat three defenders to force another good save
from Moldovan goalkeeper Romanenco, who dived to deflect a shot
past his right post from the Portuguese midfielder.
Figo scored his third goal in the 89th minute when he
advanced into the penalty area collected a back-pass from Nuno
Gomes and blasted the ball into an open goal.