Portugal made history this morning by qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time in their history.
Francisco Neto’s side faced off against Cameroon in an intercontinental play-off in New Zealand, one of the two host nations of the upcoming World Cup, in a match that kicked off at 06:30 Portugal time. Portugal’s triumph puts an end to a nearly 30-year-long journey towards qualification, with Portugal’s first attempt coming in 1995.
Portugal applied pressure early on and came close to taking the lead in the first half on a couple of occasions. Jéssica Silva weaved in and out down the right-hand side before firing an effort on goal that the Cameroon goalkeeper could only palm out for a corner. Kika Nazareth also saw her near-post header cannon off the woodwork.
Portugal took a deserved lead after 21 minutes. Kika Nazareth’s long-range free-kick struck the post, but Diana Gomes was on hand to fire home the rebound from close range.
Disaster struck in the 89th minute for Portugal when Ajara Nchout found a yard of space on the edge of the box before hammering home an effort past Patricia Morais to equalise for Cameroon.
That wasn’t to be the last of the drama though, Andreia Jacinto latched onto the ball in the box before firing an effort on goal which was blocked by Estelle Johnson’s arm and Portugal had a penalty. In the third minute of stoppage time, Carole Costa stepped up and placed her penalty in the bottom corner past Biya to send Portugal to the World Cup.
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off on July 20th and will take place in Australia and New Zealand. Portugal have been placed in Group E alongside the United States of America, The Netherlands and Vietnam.