Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal senior team have won the first edition of the UEFA Nations League. The beat Netherlands team inspired by Liverpool’s Champions Leage winning defender Virgil van Dijk with a 1-0 victory at the Estadio do Dragao, courtesy of Goncalo Guedes second half strike. Portugal, hosting the semi-final and final of this league’s playoff, which included the four countries that topped their respective seeded groups, Portugal delivered to win another trophy, adding to their Euro 2016 triumph. The latest win has also added to Cristiano Ronaldo’s collection in the game he seems to be tearing away from his biggest rival, Merci who is yet to win anything with Argentina.
The game was billed as a contest between five-time Balon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo and Netherland’s rock-solid defender who has not been dribbled past in 58 games this season, Virgil van Dijk, but the duo would keep out of each other’s way as Portugal made home advantage count. But while Ronald Koeman’s revitalized Netherlands, in their first final since losing the 2010 World Cup to Spain in South Africa, caressed the ball and hugged possession in the first half without a shot on goal, Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo looked more threatening, stinging the palms of the goalkeeper on more than one occasion as they countered with ferocity in the first half of the game.
At the appointed time as some pundits would say, Fernando Santos’ Portugal would finally take the lead on the hour mark through forward, Guedes, who finished off a move he started off from close to the half way line. The Valencia FC of Spain player’s pass located Man City playmaker, Bernardo Silva, and the player of the tournament threaded an inch-perfect reverse pass, which found Guedes in acres of space. The 22-year-old striker powered a shot, which the keeper, Jasper Cillessen could only divert into the net for what proved to be the winning goal.
Portugal goalkeeper, Rui Patricio later stopped Memphis Depay’s downward header from restoring parity for the Dutch, and with Ronaldo leading from the front, urging teammates to stay focused, Portugal saw out the game to etch their name into the silver cup as its first winners. The latest triumph also means the Selecao of Portuugal are the first European nation to host and win a major tournament since France won the World Cup on home soil in 1998.