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Nations League: Portugal, Spain on track

The Spaniards ended their winless run with the victory over last-placed Switzerland
Fernando Santos
Fernando Santos
File photo

AP/PTI   |   Madrid   |   Published 11.06.22, 01:21 AM

Portugal and Spain picked up victories in the Nations League and the Iberian neighbours will fight to seal a berth in the Final Four. Portugal took top spot in Group 2 of the top-tier League A by defeating the Czech Republic 2-0 while Spain earned a first win and moved into second place by edging past struggling Switzerland 1-0 in Geneva.

Portugal, the inaugural champions in 2019, is two points ahead of Spain and three in front of the Czechs after three matches. Only the group winners make it to the Final Four, while the last-placed teams will be relegated.

“It’s still wide open,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.

It was the second consecutive win for Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal after they had opened with a draw against Spain, last year’s runner-up to France.

The Spaniards ended their winless run with the victory over last-placed Switzerland, which has lost all their matches. The Swiss hadn’t been beaten at home in eight years in a run of 23 matches.

“Professional soccer is about results,” Spain coach Luis Enrique said. “We were able to impose our style.”

Portugal opened the scoring with João Cancelo’s low shot from a narrow angle in the 33rd minute, and Gonçalo Guedes added to the lead five minutes later from inside the area after an assist by Bernardo Silva.

Defender Pepe made his 127th appearance, joining Luis Figo for third-best all-time for Portugal. The duo are behind the 145 appearances of João Moutinho and the 188 of Ronaldo.

Spain got on the board in the 13th minute with Pablo Sarabia redirecting a cross by Marcos Llorente for a goal that had to be confirmed by video review to check for offside.

“It was about time we won,” Sarabia said. “These three points are very valuable for us.”

In the second-tier League B, Erling Haaland drew a blank in Norway’s 0-0 home draw with Slovenia.

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