Portugal basks in European glory after winning first UEFA Nations League
Portugal is enjoying its golden age of football after beating Netherlands 1-0 last weekend to lift the first UEFA Nations League trophy.
It is Portugal’s second major title in three years following the Euro 2016 victory in France, making the country the holder of UEFA’s two major international football trophies.
The UEFA Nations League final was played on Sunday (June 9) at Estádio do Dragão in Porto in front of a crowd of nearly 44,000 people.
With the home crowd on its side, Portugal put on a dominant performance but had to wait until the second half to take the lead with a ferocious strike by Gonçalo Guedes that Dutch goalkeeper Cillessen was unable to stop.
While not one of the most thrilling finals ever played, the match was extremely competitive with Netherlands controlling most of the ball possession (56%) despite a low number of goal attempts – just four – against Portugal’s 16.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a rather quiet performance after being the star of the semi-finals when he scored a hat-trick against Switzerland to send Portugal into the final.
Nonetheless, he was named the top goalscorer of the competition’s finals, while Manchester City star Bernardo Silva was awarded the trophy for best player of the finals.
In fact, CR7 is convinced that the future for the national team is bright even without him as part of it.
“The national team will continue, with or without Cristiano,” he said.
“I think the team has great potential. There are young players, players who over the years will become more mature and better,” the superstar added, also revealing that he plans to continue playing for the national team for several years to come.
The UEFA Nations League was created to provide a more competitive alternative to the friendly matches that were usually held between qualifications matches for the Euro and World Cup.
Countries are divided into divisions based on their ranking, with the four winners of the League A groups advancing to a final-four tournament.
The tournament also provides an alternative means of qualifying for the Euro 2020. The last four Euro places will be won through the play-offs which will be contested by the 16 UEFA Nations League group winners.