Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao scored the winning goal as Portugal beat Serbia 2-1 in Lisbon on Sunday to move top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group I.
Coentrao arrived at the back post to convert a low ball across the box from Joao Moutinho to decide the encounter at the Estadio da Luz after Nemanja Matic had cancelled out Ricardo Carvalho’s early opener with a spectacular strike.
Cristiano Ronaldo captained the home side but in the absence of another Real Madrid star, central defender Pepe, the veteran Carvalho played alongside Bruno Alves in the heart of the back four.
Carvalho got the breakthrough 10 minutes in, heading past Vladimir Stojkovic from a Coentrao cross to score his first international goal in eight years after Dusan Basta had needlessly given away a corner.
Serbia, playing its first competitive game under Radovan Curcic and struggling in the section, drew level from a corner of its own in the 61st minute.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s ball in from the left was helped on by Radosav Petrovic and Chelsea midfielder Matic — back on the ground where he used to star for Benfica — connected with a stunning acrobatic overhead kick that left Rui Patricio helpless in goal.
But Serbia was only level for two minutes before Coentrao got Portugal’s winner, to the delight of the home fans in the crowd of more than 58,000.
Group D: Republic of Ireland 1 (Long 90+1) drew with Poland 1 (Peszko 26).
Group I: Portugal 2 (Carvalho 10, Fabio Coentrao 63) bt Serbia 1 (Matic 61).
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