Portugal goes top of Euro 2016 qualifying group with win vs. Serbia
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal went top of European Championship qualifying Group I with a 2-1 win over Serbia on Sunday.
Defenders scored both Portuguese goals as Ricardo Carvalho and Fabio Coentrao netted in each half, either side of a spectacular equalizer from Nemanja Matic with an overhead kick.
Portugal's third straight win under Fernando Santos, who took charge after Cristiano Ronaldo's team lost its opening qualifier against Albania, gave it nine points from four games. It is two points ahead of second-place Denmark, which has a game in hand, and Albania, which beat Armenia 2-1 In the day's other Group I game.
Serbia has one point from four games as it tries to make up lost ground after being deducted three points for disturbances during a home qualifier against Albania last October.
The top two from the nine groups qualify automatically for Euro 2016.
Carvalho, unmarked in the Serbian penalty area, headed in Danny's cross after 10 minutes, putting Portugal on the road to victory despite a patchy performance.
Portugal shifted down a gear after the goal and allowed openings for the Serbians, with Dusan Tadic shooting wide.
Ronaldo had little influence on the game until he unleashed a powerful swerving shot on the half-hour which Vladimir Stojkovic just managed to push wide, and two minutes later the striker pierced the visitor's defense with a run before he was closed down.
Matic levelled with a bicycle kick inside the Portuguese area, but two minutes later Coentrao was at the back post to tap in Joao Moutinho's low cross from the right.
Portugal coach Santos was barred from contact with players at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon as he served the first of a two-game ban for improper conduct at last year's World Cup, where he led Greece.