Portugal boss Santos not writing off Spain in battle for Nations League finals spot

·2-min read

Fernando Santos acknowledged there is still plenty of work for Portugal to do to finish above Spain in their Nations League group but is content with the fact his side are sitting pretty atop the pool.

Portugal, who won the inaugural tournament in 2019, moved two points clear at the top of Group A2 with a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in Lisbon on Thursday.

Spain leapfrogged the Czech Republic into second place courtesy of a 1-0 victory over bottom-placed and pointless Switzerland, coming on the back of successive draws.

The two heavyweights drew 1-1 last week and are due to meet again in the final round of fixtures, but Portugal must first travel to Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

And with only half of the campaign played, Santos is not taking anything for granted at this stage.

"We are first, which is always good," he told Portuguese television station RTP3. "But the other teams in our group also want to win. There are still three games to go.

"Spain also won today and we are now two points ahead. Naturally the group is still open. It will also be resolved in the final games in September, not now."

Portugal were good value for their victory at Estadio Jose Alvalade, where first-half goals from Joao Cancelo and Goncalo Guedes proved enough.

The Selecao had five shots on target to the visitors' one and ended with an expected goals (xG) value of 1.34 to 0.71.

Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic
Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic

While the margin of victory could have been even greater, Guedes was pleased with Portugal's ninth win in their past 11 matches since exiting Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage.

"We played a great game, especially in the first half," he said. "We tried to take advantage of the spaces and circulate the ball, which we managed to do.

"In the second half we tired more, but they're a good team and tried to cancel us out. We wanted more goals but couldn't find them.

"This was still an important victory and a great game on our part. We want to finish first and advance as far as possible in the competition, which we can do with victories."

Bernardo Silva set up both of Portugal's goals and now has three assists this Nations League campaign, which is more than any other player.

He created four big chances in total, while only Cancelo (three) completed more dribbles than Silva's two, despite the playmaker being taken off 22 minutes from time.

Explaining that substitution, and his selection plans against Switzerland on Sunday, Santos told Sport TV: "Players start to feel tired – that's natural.

"He was very influential for us again today. But he used up his batteries early, and when that happens he could no fulfil his other roles.

"As for the team against Switzerland, you'll have to see."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting