Monday 19 August 2019

Guedes fires Portugal to victory in Nations final

Nations League final: Portugal 1 Netherlands 0

Portugal's Goncalo Guedes celebrates scoring their goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Portugal's Goncalo Guedes celebrates scoring their goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Goncalo Guedes scored the only goal as Portugal beat Holland to be crowned the first-ever Nations League champions.

The final in Porto was not a game for the ages as a match billed as a battle between the two captains, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil Van Dijk, was settled by Valencia forward Guedes on the hour.

Bruno Fernandes had the first half-chance of the final for Portugal while Steven Bergwijn ran down a blind alley as Holland looked to break at the other end.

The first meeting of Van Dijk and Ronaldo saw the Dutch skipper block a shot behind for a corner, with Jose Fonte rising to draw a save out of Jasper Cillessen.

Fernandes then stung the palms of the Barcelona goalkeeper as the hosts began to turn the screw.

With the first half wearing on, it was Sporting midfielder Fernandes who again came close as he whistled a strike inches over.

Portugal's Goncalo Guedes scoring their first goal. Photo: Susana Vera/Reuters
Portugal's Goncalo Guedes scoring their first goal. Photo: Susana Vera/Reuters

After the interval, Ronaldo moved away from Van Dijk and chanced his arm against the rest of the Dutch backline.

The hosts were beginning to dominate as Matthijs De Ligt was on hand to turn a dangerous Raphael Guerreiro cross behind.

The home supporters followed the step up from their team in kind as the atmosphere rose - but then the Portuguese almost fell behind, Rui Patricio getting down to prevent Memphis Depay's effort squeezing in.

It was Portugal who would deservedly take the lead, though, as Guedes popped a pass off to Bernardo Silva, who squared it back for the forward to fire in a shot which was too hot for Cillessen to handle.

Portugal players celebrate with the trophy. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Portugal players celebrate with the trophy. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Depay came close to equalising soon after but his header was held at the second attempt by Patricio, while Marten De Roon sent Holland's next chance high over the crossbar.

At the other end, Joao Moutinho wanted a penalty but was given short shrift from referee Undiano Mallenco, before Nelson Semedo's driven shot was held by Cillessen.

Ronaldo - who scored a hat-trick in the semi-final - could not get in on the act as he sent a last-minute free-kick wide.

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