2020-21 UEFA Nations League: Match Reports – September 8, 2020

2020-21 UEFA Nations League: Match Reports – September 8, 2020

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England and Denmark play out a drab 0-0 draw

England played out a listless 0-0 draw with Denmark at Copenhagen on the heels of an uninspiring 1-0 win over Iceland last week in a Group A2 clash of the UEFA Nations League.

England were without their regular youngsters Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden, who were sent back home for violation of Covid-19 regulations.

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Defender Conor Coady of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips were the English debutantes for the Denmark game, while Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Aston Villa's Jack Grealish made their first international appearances.

In a game bereft of too many chances, the Danes had the better of opportunities with ex-Tottenham star Christian Eriksen involved on both occasions.

Eriksen's swift turn in the 37th minute left his former Spurs team mate Eric Dier rooted and set up Kasper Dolberg whose fierce shot to the near post was tipped wide by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

For England, Raheem Sterling's goalbound shot was well-dealt with by Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel while Eriksen wasted a great chance in the 81st minute, firing over from a central position.

The Danes could have put matters to rest in stoppage time, but center-back Simon Kjaer missed a free header and one more chance went abegging for the hosts.

Harry Kane came closest to scoring for the Three Lions when he rounded Schmeichel, sent in a goal-bound effort only to watch it cleared off the line by Mathias Jorgensen.

The Sterling and Kane attempts were England's only two shots on target what with Gareth Southgate's accent being more on defense than on attack.

The one consolation the English can take is that they have come back unbeaten from their two away fixtures and finishing second in the cluster behind world no.1 side Belgium.

The Danes are in the third, not having won both their fixtures so far.

Belgium thrash Iceland 5-1 to storm to the top of Group

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Belgium stormed to the top of the Group A2 ahead of England when they demolished Iceland 5-1 at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

In fact, the Icelanders' start looked promising indeed. The visitors should have been ahead after five minutes with Holmbert Fridjonsson missing a free header from a Birkir Bjarnason cross and sending it sailing over the bar.

But Fridjonsson was rewarded in the 11th minute when his shot from outside the penalty area took a huge deflection, looped over debutante keeper Koen Casteels and entered the net.

The Belgians responded instantly 3 minutes later with Dries Mertens curling in a vicious free-kick that rebounded to Axel Witsel who made no mistake in converting it.

Michy Batshuayi pounced in to score the second goal for his side when Iceland goalkeeper Ogmundur Kristinsson spilled his collection.

The score was 2-1 with only 18 minutes of play gone. Napoli striker Dries Mertens added Belgium's third with a clean finish 5 minutes into the second half after being set up by the ever-efficient Kevin De Bruyne.

Batshuayi got his second of the match, making it 4-1 with a back-heel flick.

Eighteen-year old debutante Jeremy Doku completed the rout 10 minutes from the final whistle when he cut inside the box on the left after collecting a pass from De Bruyne and unleashed a powerful strike into the top corner at the far post.

Iceland finished at the bottom of the Group having lost both their outings in the competition.

Les Bleus come from behind to beat Croatia 4-2

In a thrilling Group A3 clash of the UEFA Nations League, France came from behind to beat Croatia 4-2 at Saint-Denis on Tuesday night.

The French side maintained their unbeaten run against Croatia with a repeat of the scoreline in the 2018 World Cup final in Russia.

With the game starting patchily there seemed no telltale signs of a goalfest.

But the Croats took the lead in the 17th minute when captain Dejan Lovren left central midfielder Moussa Sissoko flatfooted with some deft ball control and unleashed a crisp left-footer past keeper Hugo Lloris.

A frenetic four-minute spell just before the half-time whistle saw Antoine Griezmann sweeping in France's equalizer in the 43rd.

Anthony Martial was then seen scrambling in a close-range effort on to the post but unfortunately for Croatia the ball trickled over the line after rebounding off Dominik Livakovic's back for an own goal.

Halftime substitute Josip Brekalo levelled with a fine solo effort in the 55th minute, muscling his way past three defenders before he steered the ball past Lloris.

France nosed ahead again in the 56th minute as Dayot Upamecano took advantage of some shambolic Croat defending to head home a Griezmann corner.

Olivier Giroud scored the 40th international goal of his career as he sealed the home side's win with a 77th-minute penalty.

The French share 6 points with Group leader Portugal after their win over the Croats. Croatia, without their world-class midfielders have slipped to the bottom of the cluster after their second consecutive defeat.

Ronaldo surpasses 100 international goals with a double strike against Sweden

Another Tuesday night Group A3 clash saw 34-year old Portuguese living legend Cristiano Ronaldo achieve the 100-goal international mark after his side outplayed a 10-man Sweden 0-2 at Friends Arena, Solna.

A game that looked evenly-balanced tilted towards Portugal's favour after Gustav Svensson received his second yellow card and was sent packing off for a reckless challenge on Joao Moutinho at the edge of his own box just before halftime.

Ronaldo took the resultant free-kick, smashing a dipping shot beyond the despairing dive of keeper Robin Olsen to complete a century of goals for his country.

A Sweden down to ten men, were struggling to contain the visitors.

Bruno Fernandes hit the crossbar and Ronaldo then struck again with a perfectly-weighted lob over Robin Olsen in the 73rd minute to seal the game.

Swedish coach Janne Andersson fielded a less experienced but more attack-minded team than the one that lost 0-1 to France on Saturday and nearly paid off as the hosts looked the more likelier side to score in the early stages of Tuesday night's encounter but the red card to Svensson simply took the initiative away from them.

As for Ronaldo, the Portuguese talisman's 101 goals at the international level is the highest by any European player and the only one above the century mark.

He's now just eight goals short of Iranian Ali Daei's international record of 109.

Ronaldo is 14 goals ahead of Malaysia's Mokhtar Dahari in third, with Lionel Messi the nearest high-profile player on 70 goals for Argentina.

Portugal moved to the Top of the table post the Sweden win and with stars like Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Pepe in their ranks, the Iberians look contenders for the Nations League title once again.

Scores from Tuesday, September 8th games

A2 Belgium 5-1 Iceland

A2 Denmark 0-0 England

A3 France 4-2 Croatia

A3 Sweden 0-2 Portugal

C1 Cyprus 0-1 Azerbaijan

C1 Luxembourg 0-1 Montenegro

C2 Armenia 2-0 Estonia

C2 Georgia 1-1 North Macedonia

D2 San Marino 0-2 Liechtenstein

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