90+4′ — It’s practically all over but the celebrating as Portugal win a foul in the Dutch half… and there is the final whistle from Mancello as the hosts claim the first UEFA Nations League title. Portugal are deserved winners against a game Netherlands side who were fatigued and playing on one day less of rest after being pushed to 120 minutes by England in the semifinals.
Thanks for following along, everyone, and perhaps there will be more matches to come during the Women’s World Cup, so stay tuned!!
90+2′ — The Dutch have thrown everyone forward, but Portugal’s defense does well to defuse the threat without a shot on target. The hosts burn their final sub as Ruben Neves enters for Carvalho, who did well in blunting the Netherlands’ attack through the middle with Danilo.
90+1′ — Three minutes of stoppage time is signaled by the fourth official.
90′ — The game has clearly opened up as the Dutch push forward. Danilo is able to carry the ball into the Dutch third and plays it to Rafa Silva on the left, but he opts to cross instead of shoot, and nothing becomes of it.
89′ — Rafa Silva earns a free kick for Portugal 25 yards from goal on the left, but it winds up being on the few times Ronaldo fluffs his line from a set piece as his firm shot goes straight and fails to curl anywhere near the right post. Goal kick, Holland.
87′ — Luke De Jong appears to turn an ankle chasing a ball, and with no subs left, they continue to probe for the equalizer. A tame cross is easily caught by Patricio with no Dutch player around him.
86′ — Portugal spurn an excellent opportunity for a second as Guerreiro gets the ball stuck under his feet, and while Moutinho goes to the ground on a half-chllenge by Blind, it is not enough for Mancello nor VAR to point to the spot. A good non-call by the Spaniard as he oversees his final match.
85′ — A good piece of work by Carvalho to offer support for Rafa Silva after the diminutive winger is able to catch up to a clearance and give Portugal a spell of possession.
82′ — Portugal nearly make a hash of things as Luke de Jong’s first touch creates a panic at the Portuguese backline and a near handball by Dias. Patricio paws it over the line for a corner. Van Dijk is able to make solid contact on the ensuing corner, but his header goes right into Fonte and fails to get on target.
81′ — Fernandes makes way for Moutinho after a solid effort from the Portuguese frontman. On the Dutch side, Koeman’s final roll of the dice is introducing Luke de Jong for de Roon.
80′ — Joao Moutinho is set to enter as Portugal’s second substitute. The hosts, though, are looking for a second as Fernandes unleashes a fierce 25-yard shot Cillessen is able to pat down easily with a bounce.
79′ — De Roon tries to pick out the upper 90 on the left as he runs onto a layoff, but his effort from 20 yards goes well over the bar and out for a Portugal goal kick.
77′ — The Dutch continue their probe of the Portugal defense, this time on the left, but again, no shot is taken. The hosts are able to bring it out on the counter into the Dutch half of the field before cautiously backtracking in possession. Some good composed play by Portugal as they protect their slim advantage.
75′ — Portugal make their first substitution of the match as Rafa Silva enters for the goal-scorer Guedes.
74′ — The Netherlands continue to tilt the pitch towards the Portugal goal by holding possession, but Portugal are well-disciplined in their blocks. Depay overcooks a cross from the left that sails over Dumfries and out for a Portugal throw-in.
71′ — The Dutch earn a free kick in a dangerous area as Carvalho fells de Roon about 30 yards right of center. Blind tries to pick out Depay, but that is cleared from danger by Ronaldo. The Dutch recycle, but Promes’ cutback from the right goes unmet as Portugal clear the lines once more.
69′ — Some excellent defending by Ruben Dias blunts what was a promising build-up that started when Wijnaldum reversed field by picking out Promes. He arguably could have shot from just above the box but played it further on the left, where the pumped-in cross was cleared by Dias.
66′ — The Netherlands are ramping up the pace and urgency, but Dumfries is correctly whistled for a foul for plowing through Guerreiro trying for a header at the right post.
64′ — The Dutch try to take some of the steam out of the game and regroup with cautious possession as the hunt for an equalizer begins. Van de Beek does well to earn a corner for the Nrtherlands on the left as his cross is deflected over the line. Portugal do well to clear the outswinger, but the Dutch quickly recycle and a quality cross gives Depay a firm downward header that Patricio is able to smother. Easily the best chance of the match for the visitors.
60′ — Almost immediately after the restart following the substitution, Portugal work the ball to Guedes, who plays Silva through on the left. Silva goes into the penalty area and then lays it across to his right, where Guedes continued his lateral run at the top of the penalty area before unleashing a rocket that Cillessen can only get a hand on before it goes into the net. PORTUGAL 1, NETHERLANDS 0.
60′ — PORTUGAL HAVE SCORED!!!!!!!!!!
60′ — Koeman makes his second substitution as van de Beek enters for Bergwijn.
57′ — The Dutch go close to scoring as Depay’s industry nearly forces an own goal and forces Patricio into action. The keeper then emphatically punches out the ensuing corner, which springs Guedes on the counter. Bergwijn, though, produces a marvelous sliding tackle to dispossess Guedes and prevent what would have likely been a 2-on-1.
54′ — Portgual are starting to stretch the Dutch defense some as Guedes gets to a ball sent by Danilo and has his cross cut out by de Light for another corner. That one is forcefully cleared by van Dijk, and yet another corner for the Portuguese fails to amount to a clear scoring chance. But the hosts clearly have raised their game after the lull to start the second 45 minutes.
53′ — Fernandes’ corner from the right is low and clipped to the other side of the penalty area, where it is headed out of play for one from the left. The ball gets sent into the mixer, but Cillessen is quickest to the ball to snuff out the danger.
52′ — Clearly better from the Dutch to start the second half as the home supporters are getting edgy about the lack of possession by Portugal. A cross was caught easily by Patricio and started a counter by Ronaldo. The superstar ran through a challenge to retain possession and help earn a corner.
50′ — A Portugal turnover nearly results in disaster, but Bergwijn was clearly offsides as he tried to latch onto a through ball. Patricio also got his right hand up quickly to knock the shot away had the call been missed.
48′ — The Dutch begin to show some life and push forward to open the second half, creating little pockets of space. Wijnaldum, Promes and Bergwijn had some neat interplay on the left side of the penalty area, though it fails to result in a shot on target.
46′ — Mallenco blows his whistle to restart the action, with the Netherlands getting first touch going from left to right. Dutch coach Ronald Koeman has made one sub, introducing Promes for the anonymous (once you get past the red hair) Babel.
HT’ — Despite the Dutch having nearly 60 percent possession, Portugal have been dominant in nearly every offensive category. They have six corners to the Netherlands’ one, have outshot the Dutch 12-4 overall and put four of those shots on target. Portugal keeper Rui Patricio has yet to be tested.
45′ — And with no stoppage time needed, Mallenco blows his whistle to mark the end of the first 45 minutes. No goals, but Portugal were clearly the more promising side in terms of finding one as Fernandes has been the busiest and best player on the pitch.
44′ — The Dutch earn a corner after their first successful stringing together of passes from their half into Portugal’s final third. Blind’s outswinger from the right is confidently cleared by Danilo and starts a counter by the hosts. Semedo gets played into the penalty area and earns a corner as it deflects off van Dijk and over the line. Portugal tries a short corner from the right, but nothing materializes.
41′ — Portugal appear to have found something on the right by playing Silva wider with Semedo tucking in slightly. Ronaldo clears himself a half-step of space with a stepover on the left elbow of the penalty area, but there is not full pace on the shot, and Cillessen smothers the short-hopped shot with little trouble.
38′ — Fernandes has another try at goal as a shot from just outside the box goes over the bar. Bernardo Silva did well to keep possession in the penalty area after being played in by Semedo before laying it off. Silva found his way back into the penalty area, but one jink too many results in a collapse of Dutch defenders upon him and no shot to challenge Cillessen.
36′ — Ronaldo does well to track down an overcooked cross from Semedo and sets up Guedes on the left elbow of the penalty area, but his shot never finds the target as it is first deflected then cleared by van Dijk. Portugal get another corner kick Fernandes has a shot from 12 yards on the right deflected over the line, but nothing comes of it.
33′ — The Dutch have failed to figure out a method of playing the ball through the middle. A high press by Portgual forces a turnover and throw-in for the hosts, but Bernado Silva’s cross from the right gets headed away. It starts a counter by the Netherlands that also fails to amount to anything. The teams are going up and down, but little is coming from it because of the defenses. De Ligt calmly stripped Silva of the ball as he tried to storm into the penalty area.
30′ — Fernandes continues to give the Netherlands fits as he tries a right-footed shot on the right that swerves away from Cillessen, who punches it away from danger. Portugal play a quick short corner from the left, but Ronaldo’s on-target header is negated by being in an offside position.
28′ — Portugal gain a corner as Ronaldo tries a shot that van Dijk easily deflects over the end line. Fernandes delivers a quality ball in from the right which Fonte gets to, but his header from eight yards is comfortably caught by Cillessen. An elbow by Dias catches de Ligt in the face, crumpling the Dutch teenager, but he appears no worse for the wear, and no sign of further issues from the VAR officials.
26′ — The TV feed gives us a cutaway of Pepe, in the stands for the final due to a shoulder injury, and he appears to be flanked by important people of Portugal.
24′ — Ronaldo gets whistled for playing the ball over the right sideline by the linesman for a turnover. Nothing of note aside from the fact the 34-year-old CR7 still has ridiculous straight-line speed.
22′ — A second Portugal corner goes for naught, though it can be argued Guerreiro should have had a go from just outside the penalty area on the left elbow after the Dutch were unable to fully clear their lines on the first go-through.
21′ — Portugal’s front three continue to ask questions of the Dutch defense as another promising link-up starting with Fernandes goes begging. He played the ball to Bernardo Silva, who then sent it right to Ronaldo, but his instinctive low cross across the face of goal sees no Portgual player up front for a potential finish.
19′ — Netherlands fail to generate a scoring opportunity after a brief spell of possession in the penalty area before Portugal clear the lines. De Ligt gets whistled for a foul after clattering into Ronaldo late. No card, but an easy call for Mallenco.
16′ — Portugal have methodically advanced the ball down the right side of the pitch with a series of throw-ins. A back pass to nowhere is intercepted by Bergwijn, who than storms down the middle of the pitch but is unable to get off a shot as Dias gets a foot to the ball to neutralize the threat.
13′ — The hosts are beginning to assert themselves as Mallenco allows Portugal to play the advantage after Ronaldo is felled. A cross is cleared from danger by van Dijk.
11′ — Portugal earn the first corner of the match as Ronaldo and Fernandes work a neat play to get Fernandes a shot that is deflected by de Ligt for a corner. Portugal plays a short corner, and Fernandes fizzes a curling shot from just outside the box on the right, but an unmarked Carvalho barely misses re-directing it with his head as Cillesseen comfortably catches.
9′ — Fernandes shows the first burst of pace in the match, skipping through the midfield unencumbered. He winds up to shoot from 25 yards, but he fails to make a good connection and it scuffs well wide of the left post without bothering Cillessen.
7′ — There is very little pace and flow to the match thus far, both teams trying to feel the other out but not moving the ball very crisply. Some of that may be on the turnaround from the semifinals. For the record, if you thought Babel’s red hair stood out in a crisp white Fulham kit, it’s somehow more noticeable in this Dutch turquoise.
4′ — Portugal sends a long ball for Bernardo, but the Dutch duo of van Dijk and Blind all but blot him out as he goes for the ball and takes a tumble to the pitch. His cries for a penalty fail fail to move Mallenco.
3′ — It’s a cautious feeling-out start, with the Dutch trying a pair of long balls to pick out Memphis Depay against Portugal’s back four. The Netherlands have been whistled for a pair of fouls early.
1′ — Referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco blows his whistle, and we’re underway. Portugal is in all red going from left to right, and the Netherlands decked out in an all-turquoise kit advancing right to left.
0′ — Portugal make three changes from the first XI that saw them progress past Switzerland as Fonte replaces Pepe at centre back, Danilo returns from his yellow-card suspension on the wing to replace Ruben Neves, and Guedes leads the line in the middle over Joao Felix. Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman has opted for the same XI that defeated England in the other semifinal.
0′ — There is one big reward for the victors of this match. And that is the prize money, which is estimated to be approximately $12 million for the winners and $10 million for the losers. There is no automatic berth into the 2020 European Championships, but it does affect qualification routes for some teams since the group winners at the four levels all meet in a playoff to determine the final four spots in the 24-country field.
0′ — It appears both teams are going with a 4-3-3 formation, so from the back to the front and from left to right, here are the starting XIs from Dragao, host stadium of Portugal’s FC Porto:
Portugal — (GK) Patricio; (LB) Guerreiro, (CB) Fonte, (CB) Dias, (RB) Semedo; (LM) Fernandes, (CM) Carvalho, (RM) Danilo; (LW) Bernardo Silva, (CF) Guedes, (RW) Ronaldo.
Holland — (GK) Cillessen; (LB) Blind, (CB) van Dijk, (CB) de Ligt, (RB) Dumfries; (LM) Wijnaldum, (CM) de Jong, (RM) de Roon; (LW) Babel, (CF) Depay, (RW) Bergwijn.
Hey there! It’s been a long time since I’ve done a live blog for a soccer match, so here’s to trying to get back in the swing of things with the inaugural UEFA Nations League “A” final between Portugal and the Netherlands. So bookmark this page on your browser and hit refresh about every 3-5 minutes, and I’ll try my best to keep you up to speed as events unfold.
(Cristiano Ronaldo photo courtesy Leonel de Castro/USA TODAY Sports)