Portugal is the last country to qualify for the 2023 World Cup

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Portugal is the last country to qualify for the 2023 World Cup

In a long undecided match against the United States, Portugal snatched its qualification for the 2023 World Cup in Dubai on Friday by obtaining a draw beyond the siren (16-16). Thanks to a better points difference, the Lobos team, coached by Patrice Lagisquet, obtains the last ticket for France.

For her second participation in the World Cup, after 2007, already in France, she will be placed in pool C, with Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia. The United States will miss the World Cup for the second time in their history, after 1995.

And they went to get it, Os Lobos, this qualification, at the end of a match that they probably thought they had lost, thanks to a penalty from their scrum half Samuel Marques, part of Carcassonne (Pro D2). The first half had been quite padlocked, sending the two teams back to the locker room almost back to back (10-9 for Portugal). Was it nervousness? The challenge ? The fact remains that the faults of hand multiplied there, the scrum entries were laborious, to make you pass this international meeting for a match of Top 14.

In that game, the United States bet on Portuguese indiscipline, symbolized by the yellow card against center José Lima (21st), following three consecutive fouls on the same action, and capitalized on the boot of AJ MacGinty , author of three goals. On one of their rare clean launches, after a touch on the opposing 22m, the Portuguese had nevertheless struck first with a try from Raffaelle Storti (8th), touching him quickly on the wing, private, defense side of Nate Augspurger, punished a yellow card (6th) for a delayed tackle.

On the resumption, the Portuguese tried to accelerate the tempo, feeling the legs of their three-quarters more lively than those of the Americans. But Marques only converted one of the three penalties obtained by his team (13-9, 50th) and the lead was fragile. So fragile that, patiently, the USA came back into the match, imposing their physical density, disrupting the Portuguese touch (three stolen throws) and pressing where it hurt. In force, hooker Kapeli Pifeleti restored the advantage to his side on the hour mark, after a pounding in good standing from the Portugal goal line (16-13). Patrice Lagisquet’s men, punished with a new yellow card for their pillar Francisco Fernandes, could not get their hands on the ball.

Two minutes from the end, they were even cornered near their goal line, scrum against them. But they were getting a penalty, the hope penalty, to finally regain that vital possession. Still alive, the Portuguese managed to invest the American camp, furious for a scraping of their unrewarded opener Portela, but obtained an advantage. There, Portela tried his luck this time on foot and his magnificent drop from the left hit the post.

The fate of the match would depend on Marques’ boot. The Portuguese, with their two big victories over Hong Kong (42-14) then Kenya (85-0) knew that their points difference, slightly better than that of the United States, allowed them to qualify thanks to a draw. The Carcassone striker, despite his two previous failures, took responsibility, 35m in front. And, without trembling, sent Portugal to France, for the second World Cup in its history.

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