Portugal won the UEFA’s Nations League last night, by defeating the Netherlands in the finals with 1-0. They became first title holders in this competition and the first team which secured the EURO 2020 ticket.
Regardless of their results in the EURO qualifications, the Navigators will be a part of the continental championship.
Fernando Santos’ players were fantastic, and they completely outplayed Oranje. The only scorer in the match was Goncalo Guedes whose perfectly aimed strike solved the game in the 60th minute.
The opening 45 minutes were a bit dull, but that is the way the Portuguese team plays. They closed all the paths towards their goal, and slowed down the pace of the play as much as possible, not allowing the rivals to catch their usual rhythm.
Though, we have to say that the Dutch team spent more time defending, than Portugal. Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs de Light were superb preventing all the promising attacks of the hosts.
The second period was much better and more interesting. Both sides became more offensive, and chances appeared.
It was the 57th minute when Wijnaldum had a chance to score for the guests, but Rui Patricio denied his shot. The punishment arrived three minutes later, through Guedes. His precise shot was lethal for Jasper Cillessen who couldn’t stop the ball from hitting back of his net.
Just five minutes afterward, Memphis Depay’s shot was saved by Rui Patricio. It was another fantastic opportunity for the Netherlands, which hasn’t been used. Dutch players opened and pressured Portugal even more, but they couldn’t do anything against the rock-solid defense of Ronaldo’s teammates.
Besides the trophy, the Portuguese team won 7.5 million euros, while their rivals in the finals got one million fewer.
On its way towards the title, Portugal eliminated Switzerland in the semis with 3-1, while the Netherlands defeated England after extra time with the same result.
England Finish Third
Those two sides met in the third-place game, and this time, the Three Lions had more luck. Their hero was Jordan Pickford, who saved Josip Drmic’s penalty after converting a penalty himself. He became the first goalkeeper in English team’s history who scored from a penalty in one competitive match.
The new competition UEFA made gave solid results for now, but it is still not accepted very well among the fans and the players themselves. Though the football associations are ok with it. They will have their piece of the marketing cake, which is quite substantial. Plus the sponsorship deals and the ticket income are generating huge profits for the federations.
UEFA covered the competitive motive by allowing the winners of the respective groups to compete for the place at the EURO, which increases the importance of the competition. It is something which later disturbs the flow of the EURO qualifications, but nobody cares about that.
EURO 2020 will be the first one organized across Europe in 12 cities in 12 countries. It takes place from 12th of June until the 12th of July and Portugal is the defending champions. Judging by the way they play, chances to defend the trophy are quite good.