By Jack Wilkinson
Portugal 1-0 Netherlands: European champions win inaugural Nations League
Highlights and report as Goncalo Guedes strike secures Nations League title for Portugal
Last Updated: 10/06/19 6:18am
Portugal were crowned champions at the inaugural Nations League finals with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in front of a jubilant home crowd in Porto.
Goncalo Guedes was the hero at the Estadio do Dragao as his second-half strike broke the Dutch resistance to ensure the reigning European champions added UEFA's latest competition to their trophy cabinet.
The Netherlands were a shadow of the side that dismantled England in the semi-finals, Ronald Koeman's side registering just a single shot on target in 90 minutes.
The contest between Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk didn't quite live up to its pre-match billing, but it was the Portugal captain that prevailed, guiding his country to a tournament victory on home soil, 15 years on from heartache in the Euro 2004 final at the hands of Greece.
How Portugal broke Dutch resistance
The inaugural Nations League final had all the ingredients for a showpiece event to savour - a stunning venue and two star-studded line-ups - but the Dutch did not turn up in a first half dominated by the hosts.
Portugal steadily turned the tide in their favour as the half progressed, William Carvalho signalling the shift in gear when he came within inches of deflecting the lively Bruno Fernandes' cross past Jasper Cillessen on 12 minutes.
Portugal: Patricio (7), Semedo (6), Dias (8), Fonte (7), Guerreiro (6), Danilo (6), Carvalho (7), Fernandes (8), Ronaldo (7), B. Silva (8), Guedes (8).
Subs: Silva (6), Neves (n/a), Moutinho (n/a).
Netherlands: Cillessen (5), Dumfries (6), De Ligt (6), Van Dijk (8), Blind (7), De Roon (6), F. de Jong (6), Wijnaldum (6), Bergwijn (6), Babel (6), Depay (7).
Subs: Promes (6), Van de Beek (6), L. de Jong (n/a)
Man of the Match: Bernardo Silva
Fernandes posed the greatest threat, stinging Cillessen's palms with a dipping effort on the half hour before Ronaldo headed the resulting corner straight at the Dutch goalkeeper.
Fernandes sent a rasping drive over six minutes later before Ronaldo drew another save from Cillessen on 42 minutes, as Portugal registered their 11th attempt to Holland's one.
The introduction of Quincy Promes galvanised the Dutch early in the second half. Georginio Wijnaldum raced through on goal on 50 minutes and saw an attempted lob swatted away by Rui Patricio, though it would not have counted after the offside flag was belatedly raised.
Portugal soon regained control and took a deserved lead on the hour as Bernardo Silva's disguised reverse pass at the end of a fine team move set up Guedes, and his fierce right-footed strike proved too powerful for the outstretched arm of Cillessen.
5 - Gonçalo Guedes has been directly involved in five goals in his last eight appearances for Portugal (three goals and two assists). Breakthrough.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 9, 2019
Holland upped the intensity immediately, registering their first attempt on target within four minutes of Portugal's opener as Memphis Depay's powerful header was saved and then gathered at the second attempt by Patricio.
Fernando Santos made three changes from Portugal’s semi-final win over Switzerland, with Goncalo Guedes, Jose Fonte and Danilo replacing Joao Felix, Pepe and Ruben Neves. The Netherlands, meanwhile, were unchanged from their extra-time victory over England.
Portugal withstood a late Netherlands rally as Marten de Roon's rasping drive flashed over the bar on 79 minutes, Van Dijk saw a header blocked by Jose Fonte and substitute Luuk de Jong headed wide, but the night belonged to the hosts and Ronaldo, who became the first captain to get his hands on the Nations League trophy.
- Portugal have won two of the last four competitive international tournaments that they've appeared in, with their previous triumph coming at EURO 2016.
- Portugal are the first European nation to host and win a final of a major competition since France beat Brazil 3-0 in the final of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
- The Netherlands have lost four of their last five finals in major international tournaments (three in the World Cup, once in the UEFA Nations League).
- No Portugal player has been directly involved in more goals than Bernardo Silva in the UEFA Nations League this season (3 - joint-most with Cristiano Ronaldo and André Silva), while he also made the most assists of any Portuguese player (2).
- The Netherlands' first shot in this game came in the 65th minute; by which time Portugal had already had 14 shots and opened the scoring.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher: "Portugal were the better side. They looked most likely in and around the box. Ronaldo with a hat-trick, Bernardo Silva given the player of the tournament - he now looks like one of the top players in Europe. They've been outstanding. Forget Ronaldo's age - he's a freak. He's not going anywhere.
"We saw a lot more intensity in the second half. It's not always pretty football at international level - you have to find a way to win. Portugal sometimes are not the easiest on the eye - we saw that when they won the Euros - but they've done it again."
Man of the Match - Bernardo Silva
The Manchester City playmaker was at the heart of everything Portugal did well in attack, and his breath-taking assist for Guedes' winning goal was ultimately the difference.
After guiding Portugal to the Nations League, Bernardo quickly scooped the player of the tournament award, and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp believes more accolades could follow.
"Manchester City are losing their captain, but I wouldn't look much further than him next season. He looks like he has those leadership qualities."