Riding on Goncalo Guedes’s 60th-minute strike, Portugal defeated the Netherlands 1-0, on Sunday, to lift the inaugural UEFA Nations League title. The Cristiano Ronaldo-led side added another silverware to their Europa 2016 triumph.
Fernando Santos, the Portuguese coach, said, “I am sure this tournament will become a classic because it is a tournament for the entire European family.” The overwhelmed man further added, “To be the first winner will go down in history. It is a joy to have won the first edition, now we must continue to work and pursue further goals.”
Coming to the final, Portugal had an extra day’s rest. The Netherlands, on the other hand, had their semi-final clash against England on Thursday which got dragged to the extra time. As a result, the host team was looking fresh while Ronald Koeman’s men jaded at the end of a long season. “If we were tired I don’t know, but we were not good enough. They defended well and they were very compact in their game, but you have to be better with the ball and we were not,” said Koeman.
The match was touted as a showdown between Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk. The personal battle was won by the Dutch captain, as he paired with Matthijs de Ligt to keep his Portuguese counterpart quiet for the entire match. But, the real threat of the Dutch players came from the opponent midfield in the form of Bernardo Silva, who provided for Guedes. Getting the ball from his left, the Valencia winger smashed it past the Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen to score the lone goal of the match.
Silva, who has also won the English treble this season with Manchester City, has been rightfully awarded the Player of the Tournament. “I’m very happy, very proud. It’s my first title with my country. If you want to win you had to play well, and if Portugal won we had to play well whether it was handsome or not. Thank you to the Portuguese people, what a night for us, what a night for the country,” a jubilant Silva told after the match.
(With inputs from PTI)