Italy 0 Portugal 0: European champion outplayed but secures Finals spot

Italy was unable to make the most of its control as Portugal left Milan with a 0-0 draw which sees it progress in the Nations League.

Published : Nov 18, 2018 06:38 IST

Italy star Lorenzo Insigne
Italy star Lorenzo Insigne

Italy star Lorenzo Insigne

Portugal made sure of a place in the Nations League Finals as it scraped a fortuitous 0-0 draw away to a dominant Italy on Saturday.

Fernando Santos' side was outplayed throughout at San Siro, but the host wasted some presentable openings and was unable to make the most of its superiority, allowing Portugal to claim the point it needed to top League A Group 3.

Italy looked infinitely better than its visitor in the first half, with Marco Verratti and Jorginho in complete control, but the lead eluded it as Ciro Immobile spurned a couple of excellent opportunities.

While the pattern of the match remained much the same after the interval, the chances dried up for Italy and ultimately Portugal managed to cling on to the draw it needed, rendering its final fixture with Poland an irrelevance.

Italy played with intent from the start and should have taken the lead four minutes in, but Rui Patricio saved Lorenzo Insigne's long-range strike and Immobile inexplicably put the rebound over.

Portugal simply could not get near Jorginho nor Verratti, and the latter crafted a golden chance with a defence-splitting pass in the 35th minute, only for Patricio to rush out and thwart Immobile.

Leonardo Bonucci then went agonisingly close soon after, heading just wide from a Verratti free-kick.

Another chance went begging just after the restart – Nicolo Barella squaring to Federico Chiesa in the danger zone and his first-time shot deflected past the left-hand post.

Opportunities soon became less frequent and Italy had to rely on Gianluigi Donnarumma 14 minutes from time to keep the score level, as the goalkeeper made a remarkable save from William Carvalho's fierce 20-yard drive.

But Portugal still did enough to confirm its progression, as the Euro 2016 victor eyes more silverware under Santos.

What does it mean? Azzurri show real promise

While the result was not the one they desired, there was plenty to be impressed by in the Italy performance. It was excellent throughout in midfield and solid at the back – once it applies the finishing touch, it could be a real force again.

What's next?

Italy faces United States in Genk in a friendly on Tuesday, while Portugal rounds off its successful Nations League group phase at home to already relegated Poland in Guimaraes.

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