Cristiano Ronaldo had many opportunities, but could not use any of them. Even then, Portugal did not have to think about winning. The first-time champions advanced to the finals of the Nations League after beating Czech Republic by a big margin.
Portugal won the group stage match 4-0 at the Fortuna Arena in Prague on Saturday (September 24) night. Diogo Dalot scored a pair of goals. The other two goal scorers are Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Zata. Portugal defeated the Czech Republic 2-0 in their first appearance last June.
With 10 points from three wins and one draw in five matches, the Portuguese have topped the second group of the ‘A’ League. In the group’s other match, Spain lost 2-1 against Switzerland and are second with eight points.
Portugal could have had a great start to the match with Ronaldo. However, in the sixth minute, he could not take a shot in the face of the opponent’s challenge as Bruno Fernandes extended to the D-box from the right side. After eight minutes, his match was about to end. Ronaldo jumped to head a teammate’s high ball, while the goalkeeper stepped forward to punch. In his hands, the Portugal captain suffered a severe blow to the nose, bleeding from the nose. However, after taking treatment for a while, he started playing again.
Czech defender Yakub Brabes left the field after getting the 22nd injury. Ronaldo missed another golden opportunity two minutes later. The international football record 117-goal star incredibly failed to take a shot despite Fernandez’s cutback from the left byline. They did not have to be disappointed in the 33rd minute. Fernandez’s cross towards the goal from the right was missed and the ball went wide. Rafael Layao cut back into the box six yards from the byline and Dalot beat the goalkeeper with an unhindered left-footed shot.
In the 39th minute, Ronaldo missed a sure chance for the third time. Fernandes was on the assist again, the five-time Footballer of the Year was blown away by Zoral volleying his cross. He resented himself for repeatedly failing. Fernandes doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time. The Manchester United midfielder scored his first goal of the tournament with a right-footed shot from Mario Rui’s cross from the left.
There is still plenty of drama in this half. It was clearly not Ronaldo’s day. Just before the break, the referee blew the whistle for a penalty with the help of VAR if he got the ball in his D-box. However, the hosts could not use the opportunity to return to the fight. Euro 2020 Goal of the Year winner Patrik Schick’s spot kick goes off the crossbar.
In the seventh minute of the second half, Dalot scored 3-0 with a strong shot from about 25 yards away, making room for Fernandez’s short pass. The victory is almost guaranteed for the visitors. After that, their game slows down a bit. The Czechs made a few attacks on that opportunity, but they could not strike enough fear into the opposing camp. The fourth goal came in the 82nd minute. Leyaw’s substitute Nama Jata got the ball at the far post and headed down to score on the scoreline.
After being unbeaten in the first three matches of the tournament, Portugal lost 1-0 in Switzerland in the last round. They returned to winning ways with a great performance. The Portuguese will face Spain next Tuesday in order to reach the four-team finals. If they draw on that day, they will achieve their goal.