N'Golo Kante scores his first ever shot in UEFA Nations League in their recent victory over Portugal

UEFA Nations League: Les Bleus Beat Portugal to Take Control of Group A3

Portugal 0-1 France

A second half goal from N’Golo Kante gave France a win over Portugal in Lisbon tonight, which gives Les Bleus an open door to the UEFA Nations League finals.

Both teams knew that, with ten points each at the top of Group A3, Nations League: Portugal vs France was pretty much a decider, and France thoroughly deserved their win. Didier Deschamps’ team arrived in Portugal hoping to put a shock 0- 2 defeat to Finland behind them and they did just that in an entertaining match against star studded opponents.

Fernando Santos’ Portugal were favourites at the start of the game and the Portugal vs France betting odds had Les Bleus at odds of 2.92, but tonight they looked more like the World Champions they are.

 

Highlights of the game

At the grand old age of 35 Cristiano Ronaldo just keeps on going and he sent a warning shot to the France defence with the first shot of the game, a superb curling effort from around 20 yards which Hugo Lloris did well to punch clear. But that was a false dawn for Portugal fans as France began to find their way into the game and start to make chances of their own.

Defending UEFA Nations League champions Portugal have failed to beat France after losing 0-1 at home

Cristiano Ronaldo looking dejected after his shot was blocked by Hugo Lloris

With Kylian Mbappe sidelined, Manchester United’s Anthony Martial started up front, alongside Antoine Griezmann, and he fired a fierce shot in on the half hour, which flashed past the post and into the side netting. And then Les Bleus came within a whisker of scoring when presented with a free-kick from around 30 yards out. Griezmann swung in the ball which was headed on by Raphael Varane and when Adrien Rabiot tried an overhead kick Martial got his head to it and it crashed against the crossbar.

Martial then had a one on one with Rui Patricio which the Wolves keeper won as France continued to press, but just before the break the hosts came out on attack. There’s no denying that Portugal keep churning out attacking talent, but they still have a reliance on Ronaldo, and he had a glorious chance to open the scoring with a header from a corner which he directed just over the bar.

The deadlock was finally broken on 54 minutes when Rabiot tested Patricio with a low shot and the keeper spilled it, to the delight of Ngolo Kante who lifted the ball over Patricio to give France the lead.

Portugal almost hit back when Bernardo Silva found Jose Fonte at the back post but his header crashed against the upright and away to safety. Then, at the other end, Paul Pogba missed a sitter of a header which could have seen the game out for Les Bleus, before Martial’s close range effort was saved by Patricio in the bottom corner.

Tottenham keeper Lloris was back in between the sticks after being rested against Finland and he showed just what a fine goalie he is when he made a brilliant one handed strike to keep out a Joao Moutinho strike which was flying towards the top left corner.

In our match preview here at SBOTOP we backed over 2.25 goals in this game, and both teams did their very best; but some brilliant goalkeeping and some stout woodwork meant that Kante’s goal was enough to give France a deserved victory.

 

Key statistics

The outcome of this game continued the trend of past Portugal vs France results as Le Bleus made it six wins in eight matches in this fixture.

And this was a big victory, ending Portugal’s unbeaten run of eight games and 19 at home, while extending France’s run of away victories to six.

 

What’s next?

Portugal visit Croatia on Tuesday in their last match of the group. The Croats will be without centre back Domagoj Vida who discovered he had tested positive for COVID-19 during the half time break of their 3-3 draw with Turkey last week. Portugal won the return fixture against Croatia convincingly when Joao Felix and Diogo Jota were on the score sheet as they ran out 4-1 winners, but they won’t expect an easy ride in Zagreb. The hosts were World Cup finalists at Russia 2018 and have players of real quality, including Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic.

Meanwhile, France are at home to Sweden who started tonight’s game against Croatia without a point, but they fashioned a 2-1 win to give them a chance of avoiding relegation. They lost three on the bounce before tonight’s victory, and at 19th in the FIFA rankings they are the lowest ranked nation in this top quality group.

 

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