The group stages at Toulon ended on Tuesday, with France and Chile battling it out for top spot in the group whilst Portugal met Qatar for loser’s honours.
Both Portugal and Qatar chose to give some opportunities to players who hadn’t made an impact in the tournament, and their energy, despite playing for nothing, made for a lively opening to the match. Omar struck a free kick from a wide angle fiercely over the Portuguese goal, whilst the lively Fabio Coentrao struck one of his own over at the other end, minutes after dribbling into the area from wide but running out of an angle to shoot.
Midway through the half Portugal played their way through the heart of the Qatar defence and released Stanislas Oliveira on goal. He rounded goalkeeper Ahmed Sofyan but was felled and the penalty was duly given. Coentrao stepped up, and after all manner of stuttering, eventually struck the ball and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to open the scoring. In the next attack a minute later the goalscorer continued to impress, putting in a dangerous cross which caused a corner. From the corner, the play ended up with a header only just wide from Bura. They didn’t have to wait long to make it 2-0 though, as the pressure continued and after some fine footwork from Adrien on the edge of the box, Joao Aurelio swung a ball into the box and Coentrao beat Sofyan to the ball to head into the unguarded net.
In the other game, France had also taken the opportunity to give first tournament appearances to some players, whilst Chile continued to use their squad well and attempted to win the group to face Holland instead of Argentina in the Semi-Finals. Despite there being something to play for, the match had a subdued atmosphere to it, neither team wanting to particularly risk injury ahead of bigger games and nobody wanting to take any risks which could cost them a starting place. It took some time for the game to produce a real goalscoring chance, and the best of them arrived on 30 minutes, when the fantastic Cristobal Jorquera struck a free kick from the edge of the area which produced a great save from Kévin Olimpa.
Back in Saint-Cyr and the Portuguese were running riot. Coentrao was having his way with every Qatar player and after a quick shimmy gave him space, he fired a shot at goal. Sofyan parried it, but it left Yazalde a tap-in from a yard out. A minute later and it was 4-0, with the play again down the left producing a cross, which the goalkeeper came from but didn’t get clear, leaving Stanislas to hook the ball in from 12 yards. Whilst Portugal were scoring for fun, Chile were probing. A nice run from David Llanos saw him cut inside Mamadou Sakho but his shot was too close to Olimpa, who held on well.
The half time whilst left the two qualified teams level at the break, and at the same time Portugal grabbed a fifth. After an accidental collision on the halfway line the referee played a good advantage, allowing Andre Castro to put Coentrao in through the middle, and he simply nudged the ball past Sofyan to complete his hat-trick. There was still time for Bura to threaten a sixth before the referee brough the half to an end, giving Qatar a chance to sort their shambolic defending out.
Chile opened the second half impressively, and went close within five minutes of the restart when Jorquera’s great cross found Llanos, but his acrobatic attempt dropped just wide. At the other end, Gabriel Obertan went on a mazy run down the left but found his options for a cross limited, and the attack broke down. In Saint-Cyr’s goal-fest, Joao Aurelio was presented with a gift to get the second half off to a scoring start, but he sliced it from 10 yards out and put the chance over. Andre Castro immediately went even closer, curling a quick snapshot into the side netting with Sofyan rooted to his spot.
Perhaps disappointingly for the neutral viewer expecting more goals, Qatar looked more disciplined then the first half, but Portugal still had chances. Andre Castro went through into a tight angle and flicked the ball past the goalkeeper from six yards. Coentrao attempted to flick it but missed it, and the ball was cleared off the goal line. France were looking better in their match, but they had few chances. Grégory Sertic struck a crisp 25-yard effort, but it was straight at Toselli for a routine save.
Halfway through the second half, and Portugal finally found their sixth. Coentrao took a short corner and received it back before swinging over a cross which was met by the head of Yazalde, with Sofyan once again not covering himself in glory. With the second half essentially being nothing of a contest, attention swung back to the battle for the top of Group B, which France were well on top of. Bakary Sako side-footed a chance inches wide of the far post, before Sertic’s free kick eluded everyone and found the back of the net. Several French players were however offside and the goal was chalked off.
As the game ticked into stoppage time, it looked like the draw would be enough for Chile to top the group, but they weren’t satisfied and with a piece of quick thinking from Toselli, they snatched a winner. He collected the ball and immediately volleyed it forwards. Gerson Martinez was chasing it, and when Damien Marcq fell over in hilarious fashion, Martinez just had to put the ball past Olimpa. He did, for his third goal in three games as a substitute. It means Chile will face Holland in the Semi Final and are the only team with three wins from three games. Argentina will therefore meet France in the other Semi Final.
Portugal were unable to add any more goals, settling for six and perhaps taking it easy on the Qataris, who for all their effort and endeavour in the past week come out of the competition with no points and no goals, but better for the experience.