MOSCOW: Portugal, without Cristiano Ronaldo, took third place at the Confederations Cup after snatching a 2-1 extra-time victory from the jaws of defeat against Mexico at Moscow Spartak.
Captain Ronaldo had flown home to see his new-born twins immediately after the semi-final defeat against Chile and his absence appeared to be telling when Portugal’s Andre Silva missed a penalty and Luis Neto conceded an own goal early in the second half.
Pepe headed an equaliser in second-half stoppage time and Adrien Silva converted a penalty winner in an extra halfhour which saw both teams reduced to 10 men by the expulsions of Nelson Semedo and Raul Jimenez.
Portugal made a bad start when Andre Silva saw a penalty saved after 17 minutes. The spotkick had been awarded on the advice of the video referee after the Portuguese striker had been brought down by veteran Rafael Marquez.
Silva’s penalty was then turned around the post by keeper Guillermo Ochoa; it was the fourth successive spotkick Portugal had fluffed after their shootout nightmare against Chile.
Worse was to come when Neto tucked a left-wing cross into his own net nine minutes into the second half. Mexico held on, despite Portuguese pressure. Ochoa saved well from Gelson and then Nani placed a ‘free’ header wastefully wide.
Finally, in the first minute of stoppage time, Real Madrid defender Pepe dived forward in the Mexican penalty area to head the equaliser and earn extra time.
Shortly before half-time Mexican fullback Miguel Layun was penalised for handball and this time Adrien Silva ended the jinx by shooting Portugal ahead from the spot.
The second half saw Semedo and Jimenez both sent off after collecting second yellow cards for dangerous kicking and the European champions held on for their third place consolation prize.