Portugal recently became the first European country to host as well as win a major competition since France won the World Cup in 1998. The host country claimed their second major trophy in the last three years as they got the better of Holland, beating them 1-0 in the final of Inaugural Nations League.
Managed by the former Portugal defender Fernando Santos, the team had last won the European Championship in 2016. Santos later explained that the win was a proof of unity in the Portugal team. He said that the Portuguese football team has been an indestructible family for the last five years, and is completely aware of their capabilities, and that they were confident of winning this match.
The 1-0 victory came with the help of a goal scored by Valencia winger Guedes, who smashed the ball in from the edge of the box after receiving a clever cutback from Bernardo Silva, an effort Jasper Cillessen probably should’ve saved.
The Dutch looked like getting back into the game, however, and a powerful header from Memphis Depay was well saved before by ex-Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon went close.
Going into the game, everyone was talking about the clash of the two world-class captains – Virgil van Dijk, the Netherland’s centre-back, and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portugal forward. Both these players had an excellent club season, with Ronaldo helping Juventus bag the Serie A title and Van Dijk ending Liverpool’s wait of seven years for a trophy by helping them win the Champions League.
Ronaldo had played a key role in Portugal’s semi-final victory over Switzerland, by scoring a brilliant hat-trick, however he wasn’t able to contribute with a goal in the final. He currently has 88 international goals and could have upped that tally if it wasn’t for Van Dijk’s brilliant block. The closest that Portuguese striker came to scoring was when he worked his way past two defenders on the left, but fired his shot straight at Cillessen.
Silva, the Manchester City player who set up the winner, spoke to the press after: “I am very happy and very proud. It is my first title with Portugal. After the amazing season with my club, to finish this way is amazing. It is time to rest now and prepare for next season and try to do even better. The most important thing is that Portugal won. If you can add to that individual awards, then even better.”