Portugal Win Inaugural Nations League

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 15, 2019 14:07

Portugal Win Inaugural Nations League

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By Satish Sekar at Porto’s Estádio Dragão © Satish Sekar (June 9th 2019)

More Than Just Ronaldo

Portugal proved they were more than Cristiano Ronaldo plus others by claiming their second important piece of silverware in three years. Gonçalo Guedes’ goal on the hour was enough to beat Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands side. Bernardo Silva was hailed for having ‘ended’ Virgil van Dijk’s record of never having been dribbled past, but it hardly mattered.

Hyped before as the battle of Cristiano Ronaldo versus van Dijk, neither player had their best match. Koeman acknowledged that the Dutch were not at the best, but that they were developing and claimed that they could break their 32 year wait for a major trophy next year.

Jasper Cillessen , wanting an exit from Barçelona, denied Bruno Fernandes’ fierce long-range shot to his right.

Fernando Santos remains at the helm, having now delivered both trophies – this being the first on home soil, which brought greater pressure with it. Santos stressed the unit of the squad as the key.

The New Gold

“For the last five years, we have been an almost indestructible family who know what we are capable of doing,” he said.

Portugal’s Golden Generation failed to win Euro2004 on home soil – a young Ronaldo was in that squad – but succeeded against hosts France on French soil in 2016. France went on to win the World Cup on foreign soil two years later.

Santos has now delivered success in two tournaments. Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva was named Player of the Tournament. Strangely Portugal’s star, Cristiano Ronaldo, had little impact on the match – he went off injured in the Final of Euro2016 – as well, but Portugal found a way to win.

This is no one-man team.

Within five minutes of Guedes’ goal Portugal had cause to be grateful to their keeper Rui Patrício for keeping Memphis Depay’s header out. Marten de Roon should at least have required Rui Patrício to earn his keep, but lashed it over – he had another effort almost quarter of an hour later which also cleared the bar.

After the torrid time Dutch football has endured in recent years, Oranje seem back on course to challenge for honours again and Portugal have finally cast aside their under-achievers tag.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 15, 2019 14:07