International Friendly: Portugal 5 ~ 0 Gibraltar
Nani proved a capable deputy for absent captain Cristiano Ronaldo, striking twice as Portugal began life as reigning European champions with a 5-0 victory over Gibraltar in a friendly at the Estadio do Bessa XXI.
With Ronaldo left out of the squad having not played a minute since a knee injury forced him off in the Euro 2016 final victory over France, Nani took the armband and led by example with a pair of well-taken efforts, one either side of half-time.
The first was a cool volley beyond Gibraltar goalkeeper Jordan Perez at the back post, while the second came in the form of a pinpoint header following a floated cross from half-time substitute Bernardo Silva.
Debutant Joao Cancelo capped a solid appearance by rattling an effort in off the bar with 17 minutes remaining, and Bernardo Silva got in on the act with a bobbling effort that was let through by the hapless substitute Gibraltar keeper Jamie Robba.
A header from Pepe gave the scoreline the emphatic gloss it deserved, but Gibraltar have cause for concern ahead of their maiden World Cup qualifying campaign having failed to contain the hosts despite deploying a five-man defence.
Portugal quickly took charge of the match and, after Eder spurned a pair of early chances, the hosts broke the deadlock in the 27th minute.
Joao Mario’s mishit after Gibraltar failed to adequately clear a corner was hooked to the back post by Bruno Alves, and Nani added the finishing touch with a side-footed volley.
Eder managed to blaze high and wide after receiving a cutback from Joao Mario eight yards out and he then turned Nani’s cross onto the upright eight minutes before the break, though Ryan Casciaro may have got the final touch.
The onslaught continued after the break, Nani scooping over after a corner fell to him within one minute of the restart and Bernardo Silva forcing a save from Robba.
The second goal finally came when the pair combined, Bernardo Silva supplying an excellent delivery following a short corner, which Nani guided into the far corner with a header after 55 minutes.
Debutant Andre Silva – wearing Ronaldo’s trademark number seven shirt – showed composure in the box to tee up Joao Mario for a shot that was blocked on the line by Scott Wiseman, and the Inter midfielder then saw a cross-cum-shot bounce behind off the bar ahead of the hour-mark.
Porto striker Andre Silva supplied a clever pass on the right-hand side of the box which Joao Cancelo thumped in off the underside of the bar with 73 minutes gone, and Bernardo Silva joined in three minutes later when his tame effort squirmed beyond Robba.
Pepe extended the winning margin further when he rose at the back post to head another cross from Bernardo Silva into the opposite corner, handing the European champions a boost ahead of their opening World Cup qualifier against Switzerland on Tuesday.