Portugal will take a slender advantage into the second leg of their World Cup qualification play-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina after Bruno Alves scored the only goal of the match in Lisbon.
A tightly-contested encounter was decided on the half-hour mark when Manchester United winger Nani crossed to the far post where Alves was on hand to head home. Nani, who deputised on the wing in the absence of the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, was Portugal's most enterprising player. However, the hosts' hopes of finding a second goal were continually thwarted by a disciplined display from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The visitors showed why only Spain were able to defeat them in the group stage
and they could even have taken an away goal into Wednesday's second leg a minute
from the end when Edin Dzeko headed against the crossbar before substitute
Zlatan Muslimovic hit a post from the rebound.
While Bosnia-Herzegovina would have been enthused by their display, their hopes
in the second leg will be undermined by bookings picked up by Emir Spahic, Elver
Rahimic and Samir Muratovic which rules them out of Wednesday's game.
Portugal went into the game without star winger Ronaldo and his attacking craft
was missed as they struggled to break down the visitors in the early stages when
they gave away possession cheaply.
Chelsea schemer Deco was most culpable as his usual creative influence deserted
him while Simao Sabrosa and Liedson also failed to impart an influence.
The home side had been thwarted for half an hour before they finally created
the chance to go ahead. Nani combined with Deco on the right side of the area
before the former curled a cross to the far post where Alves was waiting to nod
in the decisive goal.
Bosnia-Herzegovina had been happy to defend before the goal, but after they
went behind showed a greater attacking desire.
After 38 minutes Fejae Salihovic found space down the left flank before firing
in a shot that Eduardo did well to save. Five minutes later Senijad Ibricic
headed a corner just over the crossbar as Portugal just about held their lead
into the break.
The hosts pushed for a second after the interval with a couple of counter attacks, but again Bosnia-Herzegovina held firm. Deco fed Liedson with a long ball that the striker superbly controlled with his chest, passed the ball over a defender and then narrowly shot over. Deco then shot narrowly over himself as the visitors sat deep.
Bosnia-Herzegovina weathered the storm and Dzeko almost squeezed a shot in at Eduardo's near post with a snap shot after 77 minutes. And the hosts almost had an away goal a minute from the end when Dzeko headed Miralem Pjanic's cross against the crossbar and Muslimovic also rattled the woodwork from the rebound.
Portugal boss Carlos Queiroz was impressed by his side's performance but admitted there was some inconsistency.
"I think with the image of that moment when the ball hit the post and the bar we can recognise we were lucky," Queiroz said. "But it was the same gods that protected Bosnia when Liedson missed the goal, because he doesn't usually miss those chances."
"It's natural that happened, but we played ... intelligently. In some moments we played well and dominated,
and when he had to suffer we knew what to do.
Playmaker Deco said Portugal will miss Cristiano Ronaldo during the second leg in Zenica on Wednesday when Portugal but that the 1-0 victory gives them a tactical advantage.
"It's natural that any team in the world will miss a player like Ronaldo, but Nani, who played in his place, had a good match," Deco said. "One goal for us means Bosnia have to score three. I think we will have more space in the away game. If we play an intelligent game we can control it and surprise them on the counter."