Hosts Portugal win inaugural Nations League

By Soccer Blog | Jun 11, 2019

Portugal became the first ever winners of the Nations League after they beat the Netherlands in front of a 43,199 strong crowd at the Estadio do Dragao. Like the Euro 2016 final, the Selecao needed just one goal to beat their opponents, and this time it came on the hour mark from the boot of Goncalo Guedes, the young Valencia striker who justified his selection ahead of Benfica wonderkid Joao Felix.

The victory also means that Portugal are the first European nation to win a major international competition as hosts since France did so in the 1998 World Cup. Fernando Santos’ side had beaten Switzerland 3-1 in the semis, while an identical scoreline, albeit with extra time goals, saw the Dutch progress against Gareth Southgate’s England.

The Netherlands fielded the same XI in consecutive games for the first time since 2014, but Portugal were deserved winners. Ronald Koeman’s men took over an hour to register their first shot- Portugal had already produced 14 attempts by then, and had also managed to find the back of the net. For the Dutch, it was a continuation of their poor record in the country- they’ve never won a competitive fixture against Portugal in Portugal.

Ned Lineup

The tournament victory also reinforces Cristiano Ronaldo’s status as a modern day legend. Not that it was ever in question, but there were few doubting Thomases over Ronaldo and Messi’s inability to win trophies for their respective national teams. While Messi hasn’t yet managed it with Argentina, this is Ronaldo’s second international trophy with Portugal in the last three years- Euro 2016 and now the 2019 Nations League. Even though he’s on the wrong side of 30, his trophy cabinet simply continues to grow bigger and bigger.

A little known fact about Ronaldo- he loves to play bingo. It was a habit he acquired during his tenure at Old Trafford with Manchester United, with a Christmas DVD present of the game setting him on his journey. We’re sure CR7, like us, is a big fan of these Kitty Bingo offers in his spare time, and his love for the game will only continue as he grows older, as it does with many folks. For now though, Ronaldo is ageing like fine wine, and will have his eyes set on dominating Europe and Italy with Juve next season and returning for Portugal’s Euro title defence in 2020.

CR

Ronaldo has been a pivotal part of this UNL triumph- he scored a hat trick against Switzerland in the semis, and his second goal in that fixture was named the Goal of the Tournament. Bernardo Silva was also a key element- fresh from his title win with Man City, the Portuguese playmaker ran the show here and was rightfully named Player of the Tournament.

Both Portugal and Holland are in slightly tricky groups for Euro 2020 qualifying- Portugal have Serbia and Ukraine to contend with in Group B, while the Dutch face competition from Germany and Northern Ireland in theirs. Both, we reckon, should make it, and it’ll be great to see the Netherlands back in a major tournament after they missed out on both Euro 2016 and the World Cup.

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