Goncalo Guedes strike powers Portugal to Nations League glory

The inaugural Nations League crown went to Portugal, who defeated Netherlands in front of a partisan Estadio do Dragao crowd on Sunday.

Portugal's Goncalo Guedes (second from right) celebrates after scoring in the Nations League final against Netherlands on Sunday.   -  AP

Portugal secured Nations League glory on Sunday as Goncalo Guedes' second-half strike earned a 1-0 victory over Netherlands at the Estadio do Dragao.

The host nation had been touted as the favourite ahead of the inaugural Finals and it lived up to that billing in Porto, adding more major silverware to its European Championship triumph three years ago.

RELATED| AS IT HAPPENED

Cristiano Ronaldo had netted a hat-trick in the 3-1 semifinal win over Switzerland but he was kept relatively quiet on this occasion by Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt.

Instead it was left to Guedes to settle matters, exchanging passes with Bernardo Silva and smashing home from the edge of the box, although Jasper Cillessen may feel he could have done better.

Cillessen, winning his 50th cap, was the busier goalkeeper in the opening half-hour, although he was only called upon to make a trio of routine saves – twice from Bruno Fernandes long-range efforts either side of gathering Jose Fonte's header.

Fernandes remained a threat, curling narrowly over from the edge of the box as the hosts continued to look likeliest to score as the interval approached.

Netherlands was sharper after the break and Rui Patricio got down smartly to thwart Georginio Wijnaldum, but on the hour Portugal had the goal it deserved. Guedes found Silva, who returned the ball with a nicely disguised pass, and the Valencia man rifled into the bottom-right corner via the left hand of Cillessen.

 

Patricio saved impressively from Memphis Depay's header as Netherlands sought a swift response but the closest it came was Marten de Roon firing over from 20 yards as Portugal held on to lift another major international trophy.

What does it mean? More success for Santos

Portugal's Euro 2016 success was built upon the foundation of a solid defensive base, but its Nations League semifinal win over Switzerland was a thoroughly entertaining affair and Fernando Santos' side was a far superior attacking force against Netherlands.

Ronaldo picks his battles

Portugal's talisman started off in a central role but, as the game wore on, he could be seen drifting out to the left with greater frequency. Perhaps frustrated by being so well shackled by De Ligt and Van Dijk, the Juventus star left a hole that Silva and Guedes surged into for the winner.

Oranje lacking penetration

In Van Dijk and De Ligt, Netherlands has a centre-back pairing that is the envy of world football. But its starting front three of Ryan Babel, Steven Bergwijn and Depay were largely ineffective on this occasion. Ronald Koeman will be praying his forwards can match the standards set by his imperious backline.

What's next?

Portugal returns to Euro 2020 qualifying with a trip to Serbia in September, when Netherlands will face a crunch clash against Germany.