Thursday, February 22, 2024

Nations League – Portugal 3-1 Switzerland

The first ever UEFA Nations League semi-final threw up a classic as Portugal ran out 3-1 winners over Switzerland to reach the final. Cristiano Ronaldo, who admittedly wasn’t at his best, scored a brilliant hat-trick to send the hosts through to Sunday evening’s culmination at the Estadio Dragao.

The game started well and was very open from the outset, something which continued throughout. Switzerland looked in control and were making chance after chance, most of which were falling to Benfica striker Haris Seferovic, but they just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.

On 24 minutes, Kevin Mbabu fouled Cristiano Ronaldo about 25 yards from goal. Despite pleading with the referee, the free-kick was given anyway. In vintage CR7 fashion, Yann Sommer was wrong-footed and the ball flew past him into the far corner. As the game got back underway, Switzerland regained control but still, couldn’t find the net.

As the second half got underway, VAR came into play in a big way. After 53 minutes, Steven Zuber went tumbling in the box following a delicious pass over the top from Xherdan Shaqiri. The referee waved away the appeal and Portugal broke away. Seconds later, Bernardo Silva found himself with the ball inside the six yard box to the right of the goal, all of a sudden he was hacked down and the ref immediately pointed to the spot.

Nations League semi-final in the books

Considering VAR was in action, the referee decided to use it to confirm his decision. He went to the screen at the side of the pitch to view not just the Portugal pen, but the first Switzerland appeal too. The Zuber incident appeared on the screen and after a few angles, despite it seeming like Zuber tripped himself, the referee overturned his decision and gave the penalty to Switzerland. Ricardo Rodriguez stepped up and like he does, dispatched the pen with ease.

As the game went on, Switzerland were still the team threatening most with Xherdan Shaqiri pulling all the strings. With the game approaching its dying embers, Portugal found themselves on a counter-attack with Bernardo Silva. The City winger got himself down to the touchline on the right of the box before pulling it back to the incoming Ronaldo – we all know what happened next. 2-1.

Seconds later, Switzerland piled everyone forward in search of a second equaliser but before they knew it, Ronaldo was again running through on goal. With options right and left, he dipped the shoulder and curled the ball past Sommer once more into the bottom corner. 3-1, game over.

Nations League
Nations League final for Portugal

Despite some late pressure, Switzerland couldn’t do anything and the hosts would eventually prevail. Portugal will find out their opponents in 24 hours time when England take on the Netherlands.

It’s that same old story, Portugal take the win, Cristiano Ronaldo bags yet another hat-trick. The Nations League has been a lot of fun so far.

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