nations league results and tables
Nations League - League A, Group 3
Croatia 2-3 Portugal (Split)
(Kovacic 29, 65 / Rúben Dias 52, 90, João Félix 60)
Portugal shook off the disappointment of going out of the Nations League to France on Saturday with a win against Croatia in Split, which was essentially a friendly for the Seleção. They upped their game compared to Saturday, but it was far from a stellar performance and benefited from three bits of luck.
The first half saw Portugal a little sluggish – a hangover from France perhaps. The sharpness that has become a trademark for this talented side was once again absent in all parts of the pitch in the first 45. That lack was personified in Rúben Semedo on 29 minutes, dawdling on the ball in the area and handing it to Kovacic, whose shot was parried by Rui Patrício only for the ball to fall to the same player to finish off.
Bruno Fernandes, who has been on mute for the last couple of games, was replaced by Trincão at half-time, and that plus a more focussed attitude changed Portugal’s fortunes, as did a second yellow for Rog on 51 minutes. Rúben Semedo made amends for his earlier slip a minute later: from the free-kick for Rog’s foul on Cristiano Ronaldo, Livakovic palmed CR’s shot out, Semedo squared the loose ball, and his colleague in the centre of defence, Rúben Dias, knocked it in.
If the Rog red was a stroke of luck, a second one came on the hour when Diogo Jota broke into the area and controlled the ball with his hand before setting up João Félix to bundle it in; nothing was given. The game was Portugal’s to be won from that point, but on 65, Rúben Semedo again helped Croatia, sleeping on the ball for Vlasic to nick it and set up Kovacic for his second.
Portugal had most of the play now (final possessions stats: 37/63), with Croatia only threatening on the break. But the Seleção’s forwards were not inspired, Cristiano Ronaldo – off his game again – and sub Bernardo Silva missing good chances. It was left to the 90-minute mark to get the winner, Portugal once more benefiting from a lucky break: Croatia keeper Livakovic collided with a teammate and dropped an inoffensive, ballooned cross from João Moutinho, the Manchester City defender Rúben Dias sweeping in the loose ball for h is second.
Portugal finish second in the group, while Sweden’s 4-2 defeat in France means they finish bottom, with Croatia avoiding the drop to League B.
Despite the win, coach Fernando Santos was not happy with Portugal’s performance: “It’s difficult to beat Portugal, but with this attitude, we’re going to change that.”
Portugal: Rui Patrício, Nélson Semedo, Rúben Semedo, Rúben Dias, Mário Rui (João Cancelo 71), João Moutinho, Danilo (Paulinho 77), Bruno Fernandes (Trincão 54), João Félix (Bernardo Silva 71), Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota (Sérgio Oliveira)
Subs not used: Anthony Lopes, Rui Silva, Domingos Duarte, José Fonte, William Carvalho, Pedro Neto, Rúben Neves
Croatia: Livakovic, Juranovic, Skoric, Lovren, Bradaric, Modric, Rog, Kovacic (Basic 90+3), Vlasic (Orsic 83), Pasalic (Brekalo 64), Perisic
Subs not used: Grbic, Sluga, Barisic, Colak, Budimir, Badelj, Petkovic, Melnjak
Nations League - League A, Group 3
Portugal 0-1 France (Luz, Lisbon)
Going into the penultimate Nations League group game, Portugal knew they needed only a 0-0 draw against France to go through to the Final Four. A win would have done, of course, but a score-draw would have left the decision to the last game. As it turned out, Portugal’s last game in Croatia became meaningless (for them).
The teams were cancelling each other out in the first 15 minutes, both playing a close pressing game to stifle the other’s weapons. Portugal had the first chance on 6’, Cristiano Ronaldo combining well with Geurreiro on the left before launching a shot from 25 metres that Lloris parried. On 10’ it was the turn of Rui Patrício to parry, this time from the lively Coman who shot from the right. The Portuguese keeper was to prove the team’s most valuable asset in the first half, Martial France’s most dangerous threat. On 12’, Griezmann threaded a through ball to the Manchester United striker, Patrício coming sharply off his line to block with his feet; on 27’ he fired a snap shot from the edge of the box on the left that hit the side netting; on 30’, Griezmann lofted a free kick to the far post, Varane headed back, Rabiot swivelled a shot and Martial headed against the bar; and on 42’, Hernandez put in a low cross that Martial slid to meet, Patrício saving with an arm.
It was all France in that first half, Portugal perhaps showing them a little too much respect; the decision to play two essentially defensive midfielders (Danilo and William) effectively put Portugal on the back foot from the word ‘go’. There was also a lack of aggressiveness from Portugal in all parts of the pitch, and apart from the early stages, it seemed that France had all the time in the world to construct their play. Meanwhile, Portugal lacked their usual confidence going forward, with, in particular, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo all uninspired.
The second half started more brightly for Portugal, possibly smarting from strong words by Fernando Santos in the break. A Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick from the left flashed across the face of the goal, with Rúben Dias just failing to get a head to it (or maybe he was afraid to … Cristiano Ronaldo is a genius, but not for the first time, his insistence on taking all frees near the goal did the team a disservice). Then on 53’, France got the goal that would decide the game. The ball broke for the excellent Rabiot in the area to the left of goal, he had time to set himself to shoot, Rui Patrício for once failed to hang on to it and the equally excellent Kanté beat Guerreiro to the loose ball to knock in from close range.
Fernando Santos made some bold substitutions to try to turn it round. Diogo Jota, Trincão and especially João Moutinho, making his 128th appearance – the second most capped player for Portugal – put some zest into Portugal’s final-third play. It was Moutinho that had Portuguese hearts soaring momentarily on 75 minutes with a glorious drive from 25 metres, but Lloris leapt to his right and changed hands mid-air to tip the ball wide. With two minutes left, Trincão broke into the box on the right and was fouled by Hernandez; a more experienced player might have gone down, and a penalty would probably have been given, but the Barcelona winger kept on his feet to try to make the cross. It came to nothing, as did Portugal’s second-half efforts. The holders of the Nations League were out to the old enemy.
Portugal: Rui Patrício, João Cancelo, José Fonte, Rúben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Danilo (Sérgio Oliveira 85), Bruno Fernandes (João Moutinho 72), William Carvalho (Diogo Jota 56), Bernardo Silva (Francisco Trincão 72), João Félix (Paulinho 85), Cristiano Ronaldo
Subs not used: Anthony Lopes, Rui Silva, Nelson Semedo, Rúben Semedo, Pedro Neto, Rúben Neves, Mário Rui
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Lucas Hernández, Kanté, Rabiot, Pogba, Coman (Thuram 59), Martial (Giroud 78), Griezmann
Subs not used: Mandanda, Maignan, Lenglet, Aguilar, Tolisso, Nzonzi, Sissoko, Zouma, Digne, Dubois
Portugal 7-0 Andorra (Luz, Lisbon)
(Pedro Neto 8, Paulinho 29, 61, Renato Sanches 56, Emili Garcia og 76, Cristiano Ronaldo 85, João Félix 88)
In their 6th meeting, Portugal beat Andorra 7-0 at a stroll, with 25 shots on goal to Andorra’s 0. The game at Benfica’s Luz stadium was an easy warm-up for the upcoming Nations League games against France (Luz again) and Croatia (Split). It was notable for the debuts of Pedro Neto (Wolves), Paulinho (Braga) and Domingos Duarte (Granada). The first two got the first two, and Paulinho would go on to get his second. Cristiano Ronaldo, not 100% match-fit, came on for the second half to get his match rhythm up before the France game. It was his 100th victory in a Portugal shirt, and he scored his 102nd goal; he’s now just seven behind Ali Daei’s 109-goal international record.
Portugal: Anthony Lopes, Nélson Semedo, Rúben Semedo, Domingos Duarte, Mário Rui, Sérgio Oliveira (Bernardo Silva 45), Renato Sanches (William Carvalho 63), João Moutinho (Danilo Pereira 74), Francisco Trincão (Diogo Jota 74), Pedro Neto (Cristiano Ronaldo 45), Paulinho (João Félix 63)
Subs not used: Rui Patrício, Rui Silva, João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, Bruno Fernandes
Seleção coach Fernando Santos named his squad for the upcoming internationals: 11/11/20 v Andorra (friendly, Estádio da Luz, Lisbon); 14/11/20 v France (Nations League, Estádio da Luz, Lisbon); 17/11/20 v Croatia (Nations League, Split)
Making their debuts in the squad are forwards Paulinho (Braga) and Pedro Neto (Wolves). Compared to the previous call-up, Daniel Podence, Rafa Silva and André Silva drop out. Also out are Bruno Varela and Nuno Sequeira, who were called up last time to replace Anthony Lopes and Mário Rui. Stalwart defender Pepe (FC Porto) is out through injury, so Domingos Duarte, called up to replace him last time, remains.
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Wolves), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Silva (Granada)
Defenders: Nélson Semedo (Wolves), João Cancelo & Rúben Dias (Manchester City), José Fonte (Lille), Rúben Semedo (Olympiacos), Domingos Duarte (Granada), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund), Mário Rui (Napoli)
Midfielders: William Carvalho (Bétis), Danilo Pereira (PSG), Rúben Neves & João Moutinho (Wolves), Renato Sanches (Lille), Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Forwards: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Pedro Neto (Wolves), Francisco Trincão (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), João Félix (Altético Madrid), Paulinho (Braga)
Nations League - League A, Group 3
Portugal 3-0 Sweden (Alvalade, Lisbon)
(Bernardo Silva 21, Diogo Jota 44, 72)
Cristiano Ronaldo was crossed off the team-list the day before the game, diagnosed with Covid and returning to Italy. It was an opportunity for the rest of the squad to step up and show what they could do without their talisman.
In front of a vociferous 5,000 at Sporting’s Alvalade stadium the team were quick off the blocks, pushing Sweden back immediately and threatening their goal with their now trademark movement and quick passing in the final third. After only one minute, Diogo Jota found himself on the edge of the box but pulled his shot just wide of the left-hand post. Two minutes later, William Carvalho was lurking at the back post as a João Cancelo cross sailed over the defence, but he headed against the post.
Sweden were only causing problems from corners and when Portugal lost the ball, either with misplaced passes in midfield or poor clearances. From one of the corners on 13 minutes, Pepe could only clear to the back post where Lustig controlled the ball, but badly, and his shot sailed over.
Portugal continued to jab at the Swedish goal, and on 21 minutes made the breakthrough. Bruno Fernandes - not the influence he has been before - won the ball as Sweden tried to bring it out, touched to Diogo Jota, who squared for Bernardo Silva, unmarked on the right, to stroke the ball past Olsen’s right hand.
On 35 minutes, Sweden’s best player, Berg, made space for himself to the right of goal, turned Rúben Dias and cracked a shot against the near post, though Rui Patrício appeared to have it covered.
But a minute before the break, Diogo Jota allowed Portugal comfortable half-time oranges with a neat goal, controlling a long cross-field ball by João Cancelo from the right before thumping it into the bottom left-hand corner from five metres. In added time, it was Berg again took advantage of a ball lost by Guerreiro, but his shot flew over and the two-goal cushion was maintained.
Portugal were worth their lead at the break, despite the wobbly spell midway through the half, and came out afterwards with the same direct intent. But Swden weren’t kocked out yet, and first Berg, with a header, then Claesson, with a shot from 25 metres, tested Rui Patrício, but he was up to the challenge and saved well.
Bruno Fernandes put João Félix through on goal on 67 minutes, but the former Benfica player lofted his shot over with just the keeper to beat. Five minutes later, Diogo Jota improved on that, latching on to a superb William through ball on the left before cutting in and clipping the ball past Olsen.
The game was decided but Sweden continued to plug away, their last chance for a consolation coming on 84 minutes, sub Isak heading down for another fine save from Rui Patrício; Portugal have conceded just one goal in their four Nations League games.
“We controlled the game,” said Fernando Santos, “although it wasn’t a top performance.” Liverpool’s Diogo Jota stepped into Cristiano Ronaldo’s boots, scoring two goals and assisting for another: “I think it was the high point of my career so far,” he said.
Portugal: Rui Patrício, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro, Danilo Pereira, William Carvalho (João Moutinho 80), Bruno Fernandes (Renato Sanches 88), Bernardo Silva (André Silva 75), Diogo Jota (Rafa Silva 87), João Félix (Podence 75)
Subs not used: Bruno Varela, Rui Silva, Nélson Semedo, Rúben Semedo, Sérgio Oliveira, Trincão, Rúben Neves
Sweden: Olsen, Lustig (Johansson 54), Jansson, Lindelof, Bengtsson, Kulusevski (S. Larsson 88), K. Olsson, Ekdal, Claesson, Berg (M. Olsson 88), Quaison (Isak 62)
Subs not used: Johnsson, Nordfeldt, Holmén, J. Larsson, Svensson, Svanberg, Krafth, Sema
Nations League - League A, Group 3
France 0-0 Portugal (Stade de France, Paris)
Fernando Santos made seven changes from the midweek friendly against Spain: in came Nélson Semedo, Rúben Dias, Danilo, William, Bruno Fernandes, João Félix Félix and Bernardo Silva, replacing João Cancelo, Rúben Semedo, Rúben Neves, Renato Sanches, João Moutinho, André Silva and Trincão. The newcomers integrated perfectly, looking like a team from the very first moments.
It was a very cagey first half, which Portugal won on points. They had more possession and used it well, nibbling away at the French rearguard, though without really threatening Lloris’s goal. Bruno Fernandes chipped a through ball to Bernardo Silva to the left of goal on 12 minutes, but the Manchester City player kicked air. Cristiano Ronaldo was in a good position on the right on 24 minutes following a Bernardo Silva touch, but Hernandez was quick enough to block his shot. Bernardo again put Nélson Semedo through on the right, but his shot found the side-netting. France were making little headway going forward, their first chance falling to Griezmann on 32 minutes, but his shot from an acute angle on the left was parried by Rui Patrício. Their second and final chance of the half fell to Giroud, but he skewed his shot in front of goal. Portugal had looked composed and in control, stifling France’s formidable attack.
The second half was a different story. France came out with a much more objective plan, and Portugal were on the ropes for long stretches. The always dangerous Mbappé dragged a ball through the Portuguese defence on the left, only for Rui Patrício to palm away his shot with ease. Portugal were losing a lot of ball in midfield. Around the 60-minute mark, they had a series of corners that bore no fruit, but it took the pressure off them at the back. When France did arrive at Portugal’s back four, Rúben Dias and especially Pepe were on their toes to intervene. The last good chance of the game was for Cristiano Ronaldo, fed by sub Trincão who had jinked the ball across the front of the area, but the captain’s shot from the left was stopped by Lloris.
“It was a very even game,” said coach Fernando Santos, “between two teams that were too careful, especially in terms of attack. A little bit of aggressiveness was missing in the search for a goal. We had to be organized, but we were hoping that the creativity would break free. The two teams exaggerated with ball-to-feet.”
This was Santos’s 75th game in charge over a period of six years, breaking Luíz Felipe Scolari’s record; the Brazilian coach was in charge of the Portuguese Seleção between 2003 and 2008.
Portugal: Rui Patrício, Nélson Semedo, Rúben Dias, Pepe, Raphaël Guerreiro (João Cancelo 89), Danilo, William Carvalho (João Moutinho 89), Bruno Fernandes (Renato Sanches 80), Ronaldo, Félix (Trincão 89), Bernardo Silva (Diogo Jota 61)
Subs not used: Varela, Rui Silva, Rúben Semedo, André Silva, Sérgio Oliveira, Rúben Neves, Podence
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, Lucas Hernández, Kanté, Pogba, Rabiot, Griezmann, Mbappé (Coman 84), Giroud (Martial 74)
Subs not ued: Mandanda, Maignan, Lenglet, Tolisso, Camavinga, Nzonzi, Digne, Upamecano, Mendy, Ben Yedder
Vitória de Guimarães keeper Bruno Varela has been called up to replace Anthony Lopes, who has tested positive for Covid.
Portugal 0-0 Spain (Alvalade, Lisbon)
There were a couple of novelties for Portugal’s friendly with Spain. The first was that despite the ongoing Covid crisis, spectators were allowed into Sporting’s Alvalade stadium, albeit just 5% of the stadium’s capacity, so around 2,500. It was good to hear some natural crowd noise, though, most notably booing when Spain’s Sérgio Ramos came on as sub late in the game. Also, there were three surprises in Portugal’s starting line-up: Renato Sanches hadn’t played since November 2018 (Poland), Trincão was making his first start, and Rúben Semedo his debut.
None of those could be blamed directly for Portugal’s poor first half, in which they were simply swamped by a slick, efficient Spanish side. Their tenacity in midfield, their constructive possession, their rapid movement and combinations up front, all left Portugal looking decidedly pedestrian. The final possession ratio of 36/64 gives an idea of Spain’s superiority, at least in that first half, in which the ratio must have been more like 25/75. In short, Portugal were chasing shadows.
Portugal could thank Rui Patrício for being able to slope off to the changing rooms all square. The Wolves keeper stopped Gerard Moreno with his legs on two minutes, then a Rodrigo long-shot on 17 minutes, and from Moreno again on 19, getting a foot to a shot at the back post.
It was so bad that Cristiano Ronaldo had to retreat to his own half to get a sniff of the ball, and it wasn’t until the 25th minute that Portugal had a shot, but that wasn’t exactly on goal: Renato Sanches - who had a good, bustling game all told - skied his shot from 15 metres. In the final 15 minutes, Portugal began to react and might have scored twice: Trincão set up Guerreiro from ten metres, but he too skied the ball with his unfavoured right foot; and Cristiano Ronaldo got his head to a João Moutinho free-kick from out on the right, but it went wide.
Coach Fernando Santos had to make changes at the break, and sure enough, Rúben Dias, William and Bernardo Silva came on for Pepe, João Moutinho and André Silva respectively. Portugal were transformed, notably in terms of robustness in midfield, and began in bursts to show us what we’ve become used to in recent years.
On 53 minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo rattled the bar with a thunderous shot, and on 67 he set up Renato Sanches with a lovely low cross, but the Lille midfielder also found the bar. Traoré came on for Spain on the hour and caused all sorts of problems down the right. On 72 minutes he had sub Nélson Semedo eating his dust before cutting back for Dani Olmo to crack his shot against Rui Patrício’s legs again. Playing his 88th game for the Seleção, he was undoubtedly Portugal’s best player on the night.
Paradoxically, having been dominated for large stretches of the game, it was Portugal who had the best chances in the later part of the game. On 74 minutes, João Félix slipped a ball through to Trincão in front of the goal, but Kepa was out briskly to smother the danger. Then into added time, a Renato Sanches corner from the left was headed to the back post where João Félix stretched to nudge the ball wide.
A more lucid, combative Portugal in the second half saved their blushes, and Fernando Santos will hopefully have learned some lessons with the more important Nations League games against France and Sweden coming up.
The game was coach Fernando Santos’s 74th in charge of the Seleção, equalling Luís Felipe Scolari’s record. “All I need now is to be World Champion,” he said.
Portugal: Rui Patrício, João Cancelo, Pepe (Rúben Dias HT), Rúben Semedo, Raphaël Guerreiro (Nélson Semedo 68), Rúben Neves, João Moutinho (William HT), Renato Sanches, Trincão (Diogo Jota 79), Cristiano Ronaldo (João Félix 73), André Silva (Bernardo Silva HT)
Subs not used: Anthony Lopes, Rui Silva, Sequeira, Bruno Fernandes, Danilo, Rafa Silva
Spain: Kepa, Sergi Roberto, Llorente, Eric García (Sergio Ramos 82), Reguilón (Gayá HT), Sergio Busquets (Rodri 62), Dani Ceballos (Campaña 51), Canales (Adama Traoré 61), Rodrigo (Mikel Merino HT), Dani Olmo, Gerard Moreno
Subs not used: De Gea, Unai Simón, Pau Torres, Jesús Navas, Ansu Fati, Ferrán Torres
Before the game, the president of the FPF Fernando Gomes and his Spanish counterpart Luis Rubiales signed an agreement to bid jointly to hold the 2030 World Cup in Portugal/Spain, with 48 teams involved and the Final to be played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu. Other bids will come from Morrocco and jointly from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. The winning bid will be chosen in 2024.
Domingos Duarte of Spanihs club Granada has been called up to replace José Fonte, who has tested positive for Covid.
Fernando Santos has called up Braga ful back Nuno Sequeira to replace Napoli’s Mário Rui, held up in Italy because of Covid.
Fernando Santos announced his squad for the upcoming games: 07/11/20 v Spain (friendly, Alvalade); 11/10/20 v France (Nations League, Stade de France, Paris); 14/10/20 v Sweden (Nations League, Alvalade). The games against Spain and Sweden will have some spectators in the stadium: 2,500 and 5,000, respectively.
Compared to the last call-up, for the Nations League games against Croatia and Sweden in September, four come in (Rúben Semedo, William Carvalho, Rafa Silva and Podence) and three drop out (Domingos Duarte, André Gomes and Gonçalo Guedes).
Only four of the squad are currently plying their trade in Portugal: Pepe, Danilo and Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto) and Rafa Silva (Benfica)
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patrício (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada)
Defenders: João Cancelo & Rúben Dias (Manchester City), Nélson Semedo (Wolves), José Fonte (Lille), Pepe (FC Porto), Rúben Semedo (Olympiakos), Mário Rui (Napoli), Raphaël Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira & Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto), Rúben Neves & João Moutinho (Wolves), William Carvalho (Bétis), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Renato Sanches (Lille)
Forwards: Daniel Podence (Wolves) Rafa Silva (Benfica), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Trincão (Barcelona), João Félix (Atlético Madrid).
Nations League - League A, Group 3
Sweden 0-2 Portugal (Solna)
(Cristiano Ronaldo 45+1, 72)
Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the team after a toe infection, replacing Digo Jota from the Croatia win three days before. Portugal’s performance wasn’t quite as accomplished as against Croatia, but in the second half they came close. The games also saw a new milestone in the career of the legend that is Cristiano Ronaldo. On 45+1 minutes he curled a free kick from 25 metres into the top left-hand corner of the net for his 100th Seleção goal - a series that began in the first match of the 2004 Euros in Portugal, against Greece. He sometimes seems to inhibit the other players in the team from performing to their very highest standards, preoccupied as they are in serving him, but in the second half especially, CR was fully integrated into the slick, sparkling football of the Croatia game. And he even clinched the points with a superb curling shot on the run on 72 minutes.
When asked if Cristiano made the difference, coach Fernando Santos said: “That’s a La Palice truism.”
Portugal and France top the group on maximum points; the play each other next.
Portugal: Anthony Lopes, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro, Danilo, João Moutinho (Rúben Neves 73), Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva (Gonçalo Guedes 22), João Félix, Cristiano Ronaldo (Diogo Jota 81).
Nations League - League A, Group 3
Portugal 4-1 Croatia (Estádio do Dragão, Porto)
(Cancelo 41, Diogo Jota 58, João Félix 70, André Silva 90+4 / Petkovic 90+1)
The Seleção were without their captain and spearhead Cristiano Ronaldo, sidelined with an infected toe, so this was a kind of test to see what the team might look like post-CR. The truth is that they passed the test with flying colours, against, let us remember, the country that were runners-up in the 2018 World Cup.
Portugal were superb from the word ‘go’. Fernando Santos had selected a team full of ball-players and they proceeded to do just that, playing the ball along the back, through midfield, in intricate triangles entering the box. Croatia, without Modric and Rakitic, had no answer for it, and when Portugal lost the ball, they were pressing and getting it back at an encouraging rate.
The only negative aspect was that Portugal weren’t able to get the ball in the net, thanks in large part to the useful keeper Livakovic. They did hit the post three times - through Diogo Jota, João Félix and Guerreiro - and such was Portugal’s dominance that it came as no surprise when they eventually went in front, João Cancelo cutting in from the right and putting a trivela past Livakovic’s right hand.
The second half wasn’t as accomplished as the first but Portugal paradoxically got more goals than in the first. Diogo Jota broke into the area on the left and made it 2-0 on 58 minutes, his insistence paying off in the face of Croatian challenges; it was his first senior goal for the Seleção. On 70 minutes João Félix got his first senior Seleção goal, dragging the ball across the face of the area before cracking a shot through Livakovic from 25 metres. Portugal could be excused for taking their foot off the gas slightly, while several changes (but not until the last 15 minutes) disrupted the well-oiled machine a little, and so Croatia pulled one back through Petkovic in added time, João Cancelo losing the ball on the right. With the last kick of the match, sub André Silva bundled the ball in at the left-hand post to give the scoreline a more representative feel.
Coach Fernando Santos was understandably pleased: “For what they did during the week, the players showed me that it was possible to put in a good performance ... These players know each other well, and the job was to remember what was done in training. The team were up to the job 100%. There were some spells that were less good, but that’s football.”
In fact you’d need a microscope to find the “less good” spells. This was a thoroughly convincing performance from a CR-less side and augurs very well for the future.
Portugal: Anthony Lopes, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro, Danilo Pereira, João Moutinho (Sérgio Oliveira 82), Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Bernardo Silva (Francisco Trincão 79), João Félix (André Silva 87)
Fernando Santos announced his squad for the upcoming Nations League group games against Croatia (05/09, Dragão) and Sweden (08/09, Solna)
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Wolves), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Silva (Granada)
Defenders: João Cancelo (Man City), Nélson Semedo (Barcelona), Domingos Duarte (Granada), José Fonte (Lille), Pepe (FC Porto), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Mário Rui (Napoli), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund)
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira & Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto), Rúben Neves & João Moutinho (Wolves), André Gomes (Everton), Bruno Fernandes (Man United), Renato Sanches (Lille) [withdrew through injury]
Forwards: Diogo Jota (Wolves), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Trincão (Barcelona), Bernardo Silva (Man City), Gonçalo Guedes (Valência), João Félix (Atlético Madrid)
In relation to the squad for Lithuania and Luxembourg in November, out are: Beto, Ricardo Pereira, Rúben Semedo, João Mário, Pizzi, Bruma, Podence, Éder.
Rui Silva and Trincão are in the senior squad for the first time.
The FPF announced the Seleção’s fixtures up until the end of the year:
Nations League (Group 3, League A)
05/09/20 (Estádio do Dragão, Porto, 19.45)
Portugal v Croatia
08/09/20 (Solna, 19.45)
Sweden v Portugal
France v Portugal
Portugal v Sweden (Alvalade, Lisbon)
Portugal v France (Luz, Lisbon)
Croatia v Portugal
Portugal v Spain (Alvalade, Lisbon)
Portugal v Andorra (Luz, Lisbon)