Updated: 27/02/2024


Portugal are the new champions

Portugal 1 0 Netherlands

Portugal became the first winners of the UEFA Nations League when they beat Netherlands 1-0 on Sunday night in front of partisan home crowds at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto. This is Fernando Santos's side's second major silverware inside three years after the Iberian nation won the European Cup in 2016. Portugal's sole winning goal came 15 minutes into the second half when winger Goncalo Guedes lined up a shot from a Bernardo Silva cutback. Jasper Cillessen had the shot that was heading towards the bottom corner, well covered, but the power of the drive from Guedes was a bit too much for the Dutch goalkeeper, as the ball grazed his outstretched palm and crashed into the net.

The Dutch came nowhere near to the standards of serious contenders labelled on them after their performances in the run-up to the final. Despite the 57 per cent possession they enjoyed, Ronald Koeman’s men managed to test Portuguese and Wolverhampton goalie Rui Patricio just once while the home side had as many as seven shots on target with Bruno Fernandes accounting for six of those. Fernandes who is in focus for a reported £68m move to Manchester United forced Cillessen to make at least three great saves.

The Dutch looked to get back into the game post the interval through a powerful Memphis Depay header that was well saved by Rui Patricio but ex-Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon lashed the rebound from the goalie over the bar, missing a chance to get even.

The Portuguese counter attacks kept the rival defense very busy especially the talismanic Virgil van Djik and the 19-year old Ajax back Matthijs de Ligt who impressed at the back once more, effecting six clearances and three tackles over and above winning the ball back three times. van Djik managed to keep Portuguese icon Cristiano Ronaldo quiet with one of the semi-final hattrick scorer's goal-bound drive blocked effectively by the towering Liverpool defender.

Portugal are now unbeaten in their last 10 international outings while Netherlands who have failed to qualify for the 2016 European Cup and 2018 Russia World Cup can take heart from their great resurgence since the appointment of Ronald Koeman as the team manager in February last year.

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