On Sunday night, Portugal became the first ever champions of the Nations League, as the Selecao defeated the Netherlands 1-0 at the Estadio do Dragao. A solitary goal on the hour-mark from Goncalo Guedes was enough to give the home nation victory.
Portugal dominated a lacklustre Netherlands
In truth, the Netherlands struggled to find their feet and Portugal dominated for large periods of the encounter. The European champions came close to opening the scoring on 12 minutes, as William Carvalho just failed get contact on a deflected cross from Bruno Fernandes.
Portugal continued to have the better chances, as Fernandes saw a powerful dipping effort saved by Jasper Cillessen in the Dutch goal. Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo then directed a headed opportunity straight at the Barcelona goalkeeper from the corner.
Fernandes fired wide before Cillessen was called into action once more on 42 minutes, this time saving an effort from Ronaldo. The effort from the veteran forward was the hosts 11th of the game.
The visitors produced a slightly brighter start to second period. Liverpool midfielder found himself through on goal five minutes into the second half, only to see his lobbed effort parried away by Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio. The effort meant little though, as the referees assistant had flagged for offside.
Portugal took the lead on the hour-mark. A superb team move ended with Bernardo Silva finding Guedes with a fantastic reverse pass and the forward smashed a powerful effort home.
The goal sprung the Oranje into action, as Lyon forward Memphis Depay saw a powerful header saved by Patricio, before the Wolves stopped gathered at the second time of asking. With 11 minutes remaining, Netherlands midfielder Martin De Roon saw a well hit shot go over the Portuguese bar.
Virgil van Dijk also saw a headed effort well blocked by former Southampton centre-back Jose Fonte, while striker Luuk de Jong also headed wide of goal. However, Fernando Santos’ team held on to the lead and Cristiano Ronaldo lifted his second international trophy as Portugal captain in three years.
Both teams should be strong at Euro 2020
While Portugal were worthy winners the Netherlands looked slightly under par both teams will expect to enjoy strong campaigns at Euro 2020. The Netherlands failed to qualify for Euro 2016, but now have a highly capable young squad of players.
It would be incredible if this group of players failed to qualify for Euro 2020. If and when they do, then they could be one of the more exciting teams to watch in the competition, especially if Koeman can find a quality striker from somewhere.
Portugal also seem to have a highly talented group of players, including exciting midfielders like Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes to mention but a few. The Selecao will certainly be a team to watch at Euro 2020.
The UEFA Nations League has proven to be a success and the governing body will hope that the competition grows in popularity as time goes by, as it looks like a competition that has potential to grow in the future.
Did Portugal deserve to win the Nations League?