Portugal into last 16 as Silva and Fernandes sink Turkey

<span>Bernardo Silva runs to celebrate after scoring the opening goal for Portugal.</span><span>Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Bernardo Silva runs to celebrate after scoring the opening goal for Portugal.Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images

On a clammy, boisterous afternoon in Dortmund, Portugal ensured they will top Group F with a disarmingly low-pulse-rate 3-0 defeat of an outmatched Turkey. This was a statement victory for Portugal, not because of what they did, but because of what they didn’t have to. At times it felt like watching a team of grown-ups strolling past the local primary school XI.

The biggest obstacle Roberto Martínez’s team experienced here was an excessive number of spectators running on to take stolen selfies with Cristiano Ronaldo. There were four of them during 90 minutes. The first an adorable beaming child, the second a misguided youth, the third an embarrassing adult man, the fourth a random sprinting buffoon. After the final whistle there were two more, for a grand total of six.

Related: Turkey v Portugal: Euro 2024 – live

No doubt the Ronaldo industrial complex will be in touch with Uefa. Our client is too famous for your security. But in all seriousness, the world’s most Instagrammed man needs much better protection, and Uefa and the hosts really do need to get a grip of this nonsense. It is both tedious and also dangerous. Perhaps Ronaldo needs his own dedicated taser-sniper.

If Portugal were able to play in battery saver mode for most of this game, this is a tribute to the coherence of the setup, with strength in every position and a beautifully fluid sense of control in the centre. After the game Martínez described his task with this team as “balancing individual talent with tactical flexibility”, and spoke about how happy the players are, how energised by the crowd. Who does that sound like the exact opposite of right now?

Most English pundits seem convinced England’s hand of talent is the envy of the world. Portugal have a stronger team man for man, a more natural balance, a Portuguese way of playing, with no need to make up tactics and shape on the hoof, as all England managers must. They will take a lot of stopping.

BVB Stadion Dortmund was an unusual spectacle at kick-off, red on all sides. It is the most industrial-looking of the Rhine–Ruhr grounds, with a jagged metallic roof like the bow doors of a crash-landed spaceship. Dortmund city centre was thronged for this game, chiefly with visitors from the German-Turk demographic. At times in the cities it has felt as though Turkey is, in fact, the host nation.

Vincenzo Montella made four changes, the most notable the omission of the supercharged teenager Arda Guler. And Turkey were hungry early on, using the flanks as their attacking lanes. But 10 minutes in Portugal just took over.

Montella had said Turkey would frustrate Portugal by stopping them dominating possession. Good luck with that, because Portugal can simply take the ball away, as they did here. Vitinha was sublime, a classic wispy conductor of the old school. Bernardo Silva was once again a kind of footballing WD40, easing every part of the team.

Ronaldo was busy early on. At times he even played the old hits. With 14 minutes gone he found himself by the touchline facing Turkey’s right-back Zeki Celik. A feint, a switch of feet and Celik was on his backside, the cross already gone.

The opener on 21 minutes was in its own way a perfect Portugal goal, in that it came from a spell of possession set up by a violent slide-reducer from Pepe that left his man writhing and waving an arm.

The ball was processed to the left. Rafael Leão laid the ball into Nuno Mendes’s stride. The cross was perfectly angled for Silva, who had time to smash it into the near corner with a lovely severe precision.

With 28 minutes gone Portugal had a second, again a deeply Portugal kind of goal, and not just because it featured Ronaldo having a hissy-fit as João Cancelo made a loose forward pass. Samet Akaydin laid the stray ball casually back toward his goalkeeper Altay Bayindir, who had unfortunately come pounding out to take it. The ball trickled past him into the goal.

Turkey came out with a little more aggression after half-time. But by now Vitinha basically had this game in his pocket, wrapped in a neat little handkerchief. Bruno Fernandes got the third on 56 minutes, made by a simple pass over the top to meet Ronaldo’s run, and a wonky defensive line.

Ronaldo produced a profound act of deception, not shooting at goal, but squaring it to the unmarked Fernandes to slide the ball into the net. Little wonder Bayindir looked confused.

The pass installed Ronaldo as the top assist-giver in European championships. Martínez would describe it as a moment “that should be shown in every academy in the world”, which is perhaps slightly over-egging it. Portugal celebrated with the kind of extended huddle that deflates an opponent, that says, yes we will now keep the ball until the sun disappears because this game is basically done.