LISBON: France snatched a belated minor revenge for their Euro 2016 final upset when they defeated European champions Portugal a 1-0 defeat in Lisbon to reach the Nations League final four at the expense of the holders.
Anthony Martial missed three clear-cut first half chances for France before N’Golo Kante scored only his second international goal in the 54th minute, and his first since 2016, to end Portugal’s run of five successive clean sheets.
World champions France went top of Group A3 with 13 points from five games, three ahead of Portugal and with the better head-to-head record to give them an unassailable lead. It was only Portugal’s second defeat since the 2018 World Cup.
France coach Didier Deschamps said: “Given the quality of the opposition, it’s of course one of our best performances of recent times. 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.”
At the other end, Cristiano Ronaldo forced a diving save from France captain Hugo Lloris and also wasted a free kick which he drove straight into the wall.
France finally broke through just as Portugal appeared to be imposing themselves. Griezmann slipped another ball through to Rabiot whose shot was parried by Patricio and Kante was on hand to score from the rebound.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said: “I don’t know what went wrong in the first half, it wasn’t what I expected but it was my responsibility. We were better in the second half but then conceded the goal which settled the game… we had three or four chances to equalise.”
Ramos penalties nightmare
Spain captain Sergio Ramos missed two penalties but team mate Gerard Moreno came off the bench to grab a late equaliser and snatch a 1-1 draw away to Switzerland in the Nations League.
The result relegated Switzerland while Spain lost top spot in Group A4 to Germany, who earned a 3-1 win over Ukraine and lead the standings with nine points.
Spain are second with eight and must win Tuesday’s showdown at home to Joachim Loew’s side in order to progress to the final four.
Ramos, who also became the most capped European player of all time, had scored all of his previous 25 penalties but was thwarted when Yann Sommer guessed the right way and repelled his spot kick in the 58th minute to preserve Switzerland’s lead.
Spain then earned a second penalty in the 79th which led to Swiss defender Nico Elvedi being sent off for a second booking.
However, Ramos was again outwitted by Sommer, who could not be fooled by the defender’s chipped ‘Panenka’ penalty and caught the ball. It’s the first time Spain have missed two penalties in one match.