France advances

France reaches UEFA Nations League final with win in Portugal 1-0. The 2018 FIFA World Cup champions had to respond following the shocking home defeat to Finland 0-2. They wonderfully did. With both teams tied at 10 points before kick-off, this match was the group’s final. Portugal were the slight favorites before the game playing at home (behind closed doors due to Covid-19). The Lusitanos were playing with a full squad including Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes and the Liverpool FC sensation Diogo Jota on the bench. France was missing superstar Kylian Mbappé nursing a leg injury.

N’Golo Kanté

The French midfielder does not score often. In Portugal he only scored his second international goal in 44 appearances with Les Bleus. The Chelsea man played a crucial role in the World Cup title run and was arguably the best player on the pitch today. The game was very opened and France had the best chances during the first half but Anthony Martial got denied a couple times by the Portuguese keeper Rui Patricio.

The second half was more even between both nations but Kanté found the net after the Portugal GK could not stop a shot from Rabiot at the 53rd minute. Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo would push to find the equalizer. They hit the post, but could not buy a goal as Lloris made a few world class saves to keep the clean sheet. The win is the 15th in the 19 matches for France. It sends France to the Nations League finals and both nations will face again in the Euro finals next June as they were drawn in the same group

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France coach Didier Deschamps comments on the win:

“We deserved the win and we’ve fulfilled our objective of finishing top. I’m very proud of the players. They proved tonight that France are still a great team. Given the quality of the opposition, it’s one of our best performances of recent times. The squad turned up and performed and I’m very happy for them because they have proved their team spirit and that they’re competitors.”

Portugal coach Fernando Santos:

“We struggled a lot. France in the first half were superior; we were unable to play and connect the passes. Having no ball is more difficult. We were pushed back, we tried to react but very timidly and with little ability to progress up the field and find solutions.”