9 June 2019 Portugal 1 Netherlands 0 UEFA Nations League final



Portugal win the inaugural Nations League with one strike from Goncalo Guedes (rather than Cristiano Ronaldo).

And England claim third place after winning a penalty shoot-out against Switzerland.


The final felt more like a chess match at times than an intense football encounter. 

Not that the home fans in the 43,000 Porto crowd really cared as their heroes added the Nations League title to their European Champions crown.

Portugal had edged a very cagey first half with limited goalmouth action.

But on the hour a combination with Bernardo Silva gave Guedes (playing instead of Joao Felix) the chance to drive low past Cillessen in the Dutch goal.

It seemed the goalie could have done better.

That turned out to be the only goal.

We did see decent efforts from Bruno Fernandes and, not surprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo which were countered by a half-chance for Memphis Depay.

And not much else from the talented Netherlands side despite the pressing done by Depay, Promes, Wijnaldum, and co.

The Portuguese remained solid and once in front fairly comfortably played out for the victory.

This time the Dutch didn't benefit from any defensive errors (unlike versus England) and though they will inevitably improve the need for a top-class striker remains their weakness.


Earlier in the day, England edged out Switzerland on penalties after the teams drew 0-0 in Guimaraes.

The win gave some compensation to the very large group of England fans who made themselves heard at all four games.

After a poor performance against the Dutch Gareth Southgate's amended team deserved a place on the 'podium'.

And they should have won within the ninety minutes as a number of superb crosses by the impressive Alexander-Arnold were spurned by Raheem Sterling and Dele.

While Switzerland would offer few threats especially after Shaqiri had gone off injured.

England did celebrate a late 'goal' when sub. Callum Wilson forced the ball home after a Dele header.

But again they were thwarted by reference to the 'VAR' and the strike was ruled out.

However, in the end, it came good.

Through another penalty shoot-out victory.

This time featuring the Everton goalie Jordan Pickford who not only made the final save (from Josip Drmic) but also crashed home one of the successful spot-kicks.

So England could take something from the final game of the season but might take longer to work out why they keep failing in most of those crucial matches.


report & analysis - John Bethell





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