Bernardo Silva puts in golden performance as Portugal lift Nations League crown

Matt Jones 10/06/2019
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Portugal were crowned the inaugural Nations League winners after a dominant display against a disappointing Dutch side in Porto.

The 1-0 scoreline might not seem convincing but this was about as dominant a performance as you could see, with the reigning European champions almost always comfortable.

They had 18 shots compared to the Netherlands’ four and Goncalo Guedes’ blistering strike on the hour was no more than they deserved.

Here we rate the Portugal players.

PORTUGAL (4-3-3)

Rui Patricio 7: Terrific stop from Wijnaldum, he had no idea Liverpool midfielder was offside. Then genuinely thwarted his header and also kept Luuk de Jong’s effort out.

Nelson Semedo 6: Speedy Barcelona right-back failed to have much say on proceedings but at least had a fairly impressive evening, jointly led side with three tackles and 92.6 per cent pass accuracy was second best.

Ruben Dias 7: Excellent tackle stopped barrelling Bergwijn in his tracks. A powerful, stoic presence, who made six clearances and rarely looked troubled. Would have impressed any watching Man United scouts.

Jose Fonte 7: Saw best initial sight of goal but header from corner was tame. Commanding presence even at 35, winning team-high six aerials.

Raphael Guerreiro 7: Lively on the left, eagerly bombing forward. Excellent work of midfielders allowed him to roam and give Holland headaches at the back.

Bruno Fernandes 6: Bright start but sloppy pass almost let Bergwijn in. Then stung Cillessen’s palms before testing him again later on. Busy throughout, with three key passes, which will excite United fans.

Danilo Pereira 6: Went about his work with minimum fuss and effort alongside Carvalho. His 93.1 per cent pass accuracy led Portugal.

William Carvalho 7: Diligently patrolled middle third and actively drove his side on as they stifled the creators in blue shirts. Kept tight reign on De Jong and Co.

Bernardo Silva 9: Twinkle-toed schemer as important as Ronaldo, always thinking a few seconds ahead. Was a constant menace as he drove and picked holes in Dutch defence – led way with five key passes, one of which set up Guedes.

Cristiano Ronaldo 8: Flashed a fizzing header at Cillessen, but was offside. Always at the heart of his side’s forays forward, even if he never had a clear sight of goal. Even got back to help defence.

Goncalo Guedes 7: Buzzed around and probed, rifling a rocket of a shot home for the opener, giving Cillessen little chance. Enjoyed gaps opening up in second 45.

SUBS

Rafa Silva 7: Replaced goalscorer Guedes and immersed himself in the action, a thorn in the Dutch side.

Joao Moutinho N/A: Veteran came on to win 115th cap, and almost won a penalty.

Ruben Neves N/A: Brought on just to waste time.

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England overcome Switzerland to earn Nations League third place thanks to Jordan Pickford

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Jordan Pickford was England’s penalty shootout hero once again as Gareth Southgate’s men eventually overcame Switzerland to bring an exciting end to a tepid third-place play-off in the Nations League.

Three days on from losing their semi-final to the Netherlands due to two defensive gifts and a narrow offside call, the Three Lions returned to a far quieter Estadio D Afonso Henriques for Sunday’s battle for bronze.

Callum Wilson thought he had grabbed a late winner ruled until the video assistant referee intervened in Guimaraes, where England dominated throughout only for the match to end 0-0 after 120 minutes.

The match went to spot-kicks and Pickford again came into his own in the shootout, denying Josip Drmic in sudden death after scoring his own spot-kick as the Three Lions won 6-5 on penalties.

It was a positive note at the end of a forgettable match that at least brings the team bronze medals and penalty confidence ahead of Euro 2020.

England should have had the match wrapped up long before the shootout, though, with the Swiss goal frame rattled four times across the 120 minutes.

Southgate’s men even thought they had snatched an 84th-minute winner through Wilson, only for VAR to spot his foul on Manuel Akanji.

It meant an extra 30 minutes of the match no-one wanted and eventually penalties, with Pickford emulating his last-16 heroics against Colombia at last year’s World Cup as England won another shootout.

It brought a welcome buzz at the end of a drab match that saw seven Southgate changes, with John Stones among those going out as Kane returned.

Less than two minutes were on the clock when the 25-year-old tried a chipped attempt from an acute angle, with goalkeeper Yann Sommer just able to tip onto the crossbar.

Raheem Sterling wasted a glorious chance in the 14th minute when put through by Kane’s nifty footwork and firing straight at Sommer.

Mistiming his run onto a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross soon compounded matters, while Dele Alli became the next to waste an excellent ball by the England right-back as he powered a header over.

Switzerland were creating precious little at the other end as they struggled to click into gear England continued in the ascendancy after the break.

Kane’s unsettling presence saw Fabian Schar stretch to prevent him reaching a Danny Rose cross, only for the defender to turn the ball onto the far post of his own goal.

Granit Xhaka saw a first-time strike denied by Pickford straight after but things soon slowed in a bumbling second half.

Harry Maguire’s turn on the edge of his own six-yard box brought a rare moment to cheer after days of talk about playing it out from the back, before there finally seemed to be a breakthrough in the 84th minute.

Alli met a Sterling cross with header that crashed back off the frame of the goal and Wilson reacted quickest to poke home from close range.

Relief and joy soon became frustration, though, as VAR would again rule out a late England winner, with referee Ovidiu Hategan checking the monitor and seeing Wilson’s foul on Akanji.

Xhaka blocked before the match entered extra time, which started with Sterling and Eric Dier having half-hearted efforts.

Sommer did superbly when England threatened next, denying Alli before stopping Sterling’s follow-up.

Wilson was thwarted by a late tackle in the second period, which saw Sterling whack the crossbar with a 20-yard free-kick three minutes from time.

It was the last chance and the match went to penalties.

Maguire and Ross Barkley took different approaches but scored their spot-kicks, as did Jadon Sancho and Sterling despite Sommer going the right way.

Pickford took off his gloves to fire a spot-kick of his own home, but he was unable to stop any of the first five Swiss efforts as the shootout went to sudden death.

Eric Dier struck home the first before Josip Drmic was denied, with Pickford diving to his right to paw away the strike and seal victory.

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Jordan Pickford admits to nerves as he is spotkick hero for England in Switzerland win

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Jordan Pickford admitted to feeling nervous when he stepped up to take a penalty in England’s shoot-out win over Switzerland.

The Guimaraes contest went to spot-kicks after a goalless 120 minutes and Pickford again came into his own, denying Josip Drmic in sudden death after scoring his own effort in emphatic fashion as the Three Lions won 6-5 on penalties.

The victory secured third place in the Nations League and afterwards Everton goalkeeper Pickford told Sky Sports: “It was a very tough game.

“We showed character and belief again. Sometimes it’s hard to get up for a game like this, but it just shows us where we want to go and how we get better as a team and bounce back.

“We always say, ‘Do what it takes to win a game’, and I was a bit nervous taking my penalty – but I’m not nervous saving them.

“We practise them when there’s a major competition or the Nations League, we practise them consistently.

“I picked my spot and I always seem to be able to get a goal, but I’ve never taken one in a real game, so I was a bit nervous.

“I think we took (off) Harry Kane and some of the other lads who take penalties, so I wasn’t sure where I was in the pecking order. But it’s what you practise for, you practise all the time to make sure you make it easier on the day.”

Pickford sent Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer the wrong way with a confident finish and the England man added: “It’s all about routine, I would say.

“You watch the top penalty takers, and Harry Kane’s got his own routine, so you’ve got to create your own routine to make sure everything’s done to perfection.”

England lost to the Netherlands on Thursday and, asked for his thoughts on the Nations League campaign, Pickford added: “I think the biggest learning curve was Thursday night. We learned that we need to see a game out better and maybe get that next goal.

“But you can only learn by defeat really, I think these two games were a lot better than playing two qualifying games so that’s massive for us going into the qualifying campaign for the Euros.”

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