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Big guns advance

DOHA, Qatar (AFP) — Five-time champion Brazil and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal joined France in the World Cup knockout rounds with a game to spare on a dramatic day of action in Qatar on Monday.

Portugal’s match against Uruguay, which it won 2-0, was briefly interrupted by a pitch invader who carried a rainbow flag and wore messages of support for war-torn Ukraine and Iranian women.

Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes starred for Portugal, scoring with a cross-cum-shot early in the second half before converting an injury-time penalty.

Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration after the first goal but the International Football Federation decided he had not touched the ball, denying him a ninth World Cup goal, which would have put him level with Portuguese great Eusebio.

“It was a well-deserved victory,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.

“The first part is over, we are in a hurry. Now I will continue to work to improve what needs to be improved.”

Portugal top Group H with six points after two matches, three ahead of Ghana, who edged a five-goal thriller against Son Heung-min’s South Korea.

Man-of-the-match Mohammed Kudus, 22, one of the hottest properties in world football, caught the eye with two goals including the winner midway through the second half.

The Asian side and Uruguay have a point apiece going into the final round of fixtures in the group on Friday.

Portugal booked their place in the knockout phase in Qatar hours after Brazil progressed, courtesy of a late goal from Manchester United midfielder Casemiro.

The Manchester United midfielder scored in the 83rd minute of Brazil’s Group G match against Switzerland to give his side a 1-0 win at Stadium 974.

The Brazilians, missing the craft of their injured talisman Neymar, looked as though they would have to settle for a point after a Vinicius Junior strike in the second half was disallowed for offside.

But with seven minutes remaining, Casemiro volleyed home with the help of a slight but significant deflection off Manuel Akanji to break the resistance of the obdurate Swiss.

“The first aim was to qualify. That was really important in a group as difficult as ours,” the 30-year-old Casemiro told Brazilian broadcaster SporTV.

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