March 26, 2018 / 8:43 PM / a month ago

Soccer-Portugal suffer first-half collapse in 3-0 loss to Dutch

GENEVA, March 26 (Reuters) - European champions Portugal suffered a dramatic first-half collapse and had Joao Cancelo sent off just after the hour in an embarrassing 3-0 World Cup warm-up defeat by the Netherlands on Monday.

Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel and Virgil van Dijk all scored after taking advantage of uncharacteristically slack defending by Portugal as the Dutch, who failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup, secured a first win for new coach Ronald Koeman.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo began the match a hat-trick away from matching Hungarian Ferenc Puskas’s record of 84 goals as Europe’s all-time leading international marksmen but never looked like scoring one, let alone three.

Portugal, who face Spain, Iran and Morocco in their World Cup group, dominated possession for the opening few minutes but the Dutch struck first when Depay beat defender Jose Fonte to a loose ball and fired into the net after 12 minutes.

Ryan Babel was left completely unmarked to head in from Matthijs De Ligt’s cross at the far post in the 32nd minute and it needed a superb save by Anthony Lopes to keep out a Depay header shortly afterwards.

There was no let-off on the stroke of halftime, however, when a Depay free kick was teed up by De Ligt for the unmarked Van Dijk to fire home the third.

Portugal tightened up in defence after halftime and escaped further embarrassment but still suffered more misery when Cancelo was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge.

The Dutch brought on Justin Kluivert, the 18-year-old son of their former forward Patrick, for his international debut in the 78th minute. (Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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