Sat. Aug 17th, 2019

Portugal wins inaugural Nations League

Portugal were crowned champions at the inaugural Nations League finals with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in front of a jubilant home crowd in Porto.

Goncalo Guedes was the hero at the Estadio do Dragao as his second-half strike broke the Dutch resistance to ensure the reigning European champions added UEFA’s latest competition to their trophy cabinet.

The Netherlands were a shadow of the side that dismantled England in the semi-finals, Ronald Koeman’s side registering just a single shot on target in 90 minutes.

The contest between Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk didn’t quite live up to its pre-match billing, but it was the Portugal captain that prevailed, guiding his country to a tournament victory on home soil, 15 years on from heartache in the Euro 2004 final at the hands of Greece.

The inaugural Nations League final had all the ingredients for a showpiece event to savour – a stunning venue and two star-studded line-ups – but the Dutch did not turn up in a first half dominated by the hosts.

Portugal steadily turned the tide in their favour as the half progressed, William Carvalho signalling the shift in gear when he came within inches of deflecting the lively Bruno Fernandes’ cross past Jasper Cillessen on 12 minutes.

Fernandes posed the greatest threat, stinging Cillessen’s palms with a dipping effort on the half hour before Ronaldo headed the resulting corner straight at the Dutch goalkeeper.

Fernandes sent a rasping drive over six minutes later before Ronaldo drew another save from Cillessen on 42 minutes, as Portugal registered their 11th attempt to Holland’s one.

The introduction of Quincy Promes galvanised the Dutch early in the second half. Georginio Wijnaldum raced through on goal on 50 minutes and saw an attempted lob swatted away by Rui Patricio, though it would not have counted after the offside flag was belatedly raised.

Goncalo Guedes celebrates with Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring against Netherlands

Goncalo Guedes celebrates with Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring against Netherlands

Portugal soon regained control and took a deserved lead on the hour as Bernardo Silva’s disguised reverse pass at the end of a fine team move set up Guedes, and his fierce right-footed strike proved too powerful for the outstretched arm of Cillessen.

Holland upped the intensity immediately, registering their first attempt on target within four minutes of Portugal’s opener as Memphis Depay’s powerful header was saved and then gathered at the second attempt by Patricio.

Portugal withstood a late Netherlands rally as Marten de Roon’s rasping drive flashed over the bar on 79 minutes, Van Dijk saw a header blocked by Jose Fonte and substitute Luuk de Jong headed wide, but the night belonged to the hosts and Ronaldo, who became the first captain to get his hands on the Nations League trophy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Share via