The Slovenia Times

Slovenia rout Ronaldo-led Portugal in a friendly

Slovenia defeat Portugal, captained by Cristiano Ronaldo (centre), in a friendly in Ljubljana. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Slovenia scored a surprise 2:0 win against Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal in a Euro 2024 friendly in front of the home crowd on 26 March, in what was the first defeat for one of the world's strongest teams after 11 consecutive wins.

Slovenia entered the match fresh from a disappointing 2:2 draw with Malta and were the clear underdogs in the first ever match-up with Portugal.

While the guests had field domination, the home team were more adventurous and created several good opportunities while Portugal's first shot on the Slovenian goal did not come until the 79th minute.

Slovenia opened the scoring through Adam Gnezda Čerin in the 72nd minute. Timi Elsnik doubled the advantage ten minutes from time.

The win came despite the absence of head coach Matjaž Kek, whose father died a few days ago. Assistant coach Boštjan Cesar stepped in for him.

"This win feels phenomenal. A lot of things worked out. After the Malta match we conducted our analysis and played well," Cesar said.

But he added the team had to remain realistic heading into the final preparations for the Euro. "Of course we are happy to have defeated such an opponent, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and work for the Euro."

Before the June start of the Euro, where they will take on England, Denmark and Serbia, Slovenia are slated to play Armenia and Bulgaria.

Despite being a friendly, the match attracted unprecedented public and media attention due to Ronaldo's arrival.

Crowds greeted the superstar at the airport and then hundreds of people camped in front of the Ljubljana hotel where the team were staying hoping to get a photo or video of the star.

One of the fans even managed to get onto the pitch during the match. He was so fast he succeeded in making a selfie with Ronaldo and kissing him on the cheek before security guards took him away.

"Unforgettable moment. 20 years of waiting is over," he wrote in a post on his Instagram profile, thanking Ronaldo for the "unforgettable moment".

The tickets for the match sold out in just four minutes and media have reported that fans who failed to get them then had to pay up to €500 to secure one on the black market. More than 16,000 spectators watched the match at the Stožice stadium.


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