Portugal defeated Netherlands 1-0 to win the inaugural UEFA Nations League at the Estadio do Dragao on Sunday night.
Goncalo Guedes scored the only goal of the match in the 60th minute and it was a deserved victory for Fernando Santos’s side, who offered the greater threat in Porto.
Ronald Koeman resisted the temptation to make changes following Thursday’s semi-final against England, with the same Netherlands XI being sent onto the field despite having to play extra-time against the Three Lions.
There were three changes for Portugal following their semi-final win over Switzerland, though, with Jose Fonte coming in for the injured Pepe, while Danilo and Guedes were in for Joao Felix and Ruben Neves.
Portugal had a penalty shout inside the first four minutes when Bernardo Silva went down under pressure from Daley Blind, but the referee was not interested and there was no subsequent VAR check.
Bruno Fernandes – strongly linked with Manchester United – had the first shot of the match in the ninth minute, but the midfielder’s effort was always moving wide of Jasper Cillessen’s post. Fernandes again tried his luck a couple of minutes later although it was a comfortable save for the Dutch goalkeeper.
Fonte was next to try his luck in the 28th minute, but the centre-back’s header from a dangerous corner was always straight into the arms of Cillessen, who then had to keep out a powerful strike from Fernandes.
The 30-minute mark came and went with the game still goalless – Portugal were easily the more dangerous of the two teams, but creating clear-cut opportunities was proving to be a tough task for the Iberian nation.
It was almost a one-man show in terms of Fernandes efforts with the Sporting Lisbon midfielder sending another strike over the crossbar in the 38th minute and the two teams headed down the tunnel at 0-0.
Netherlands enjoyed 59% of the possession in the first period but had just one shot, while Portugal managed 12 first-half attempts without finding the back of the net.
Ryan Babel was replaced by Quincy Promes at the interval, which was not a surprise as Koeman’s side offered little going forward in the first 45 minutes of action.
The Dutch were much better at the start of the second period, but Portugal were still carrying a big threat down the other end with Ronaldo and Guedes both extremely dangerous.
Rui Patricio had to make a smart save to prevent a deflected cross from finding the back of the Portugal net just before the hour and there was also plenty happening down the other end during a frantic period of the match.
Finally the breakthrough arrived on the hour when Guedes collected a clever pass from Bernardo Silva before finding the bottom corner with a powerful effort. Cillessen got hands to Guedes’s strike but could not prevent it from nestling in the back of the net.
Patricio had to make a smart save to keep out a header from Memphis in the period that followed and the Netherlands were the team on the front foot approaching the final 20 minutes of normal time.
A strike from Marten de Roon just missed the Portugal goal in the 78th minute, moments before Fernandes again stung the palms of Cillessen down the other end of the field.
Joao Moutinho had a late shout for a penalty after going down under a challenge from Blind, but the referee did not whistle and the Netherlands were still alive entering the final minutes of normal time.
The leveller never looked likely, though, with Portugal fairly comfortable in the three minutes of additional time as Santos’s team landed the first ever UEFA Nations League trophy courtesy of a one-goal success.11 BUSINESS NUGGETS FROM SUPER EAGLES BRONZE MEDAL TRIUMPH. The content of this ebook will propel you above your competition. DOWNLOAD NOW!!!