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Nations League: Portugal qualify for semis

November 18, 2018 08:45 IST
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Portugal in semis with 0-0 draw in Italy


IMAGE: Portugal's Rui Patricio and Jose Fonte celebrate after the match. Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

Portugal became the first team to qualify for the Nations League semi-finals when they held Italy 0-0 on Saturday, the second time in a year that the hosts have been knocked out of a competition following a goalless draw at the San Siro.


Italy, with defender Giorgio Chiellini making his 100th appearance, suffocated Portugal in the first hour with their pressing and created numerous openings with their intricate passing moves.

But they ran out of steam in the last half hour and the European champions held out fairly comfortably.

Portugal have seven points from three games in the three-team group, two ahead of Italy who have finished their campaign. Poland, who visit Portugal for the group's final game on Tuesday, have one point and have already been relegated.

They are also in line to host the semi-finals and finals in June as Italy and Poland were the only other two countries to express an interest in staging the tournament. The decision still has to be ratified by UEFA on Dec. 3.

Last November, Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after being held by Sweden at the same stadium in Milan.

A small part of the crowd booed Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, who left AC Milan after one season at the club to return to Juventus in August.

Italy had an early chance when Lorenzo Insigne's long-range shot was parried by Rui Patricio and Ciro Immobile blasted the rebound over the bar.

In what was a hugely promising display by Roberto Mancini's side, Alessandro Florenzi drove a low shot narrowly wide before Marco Verratti threaded a ball through to Immobile and this time Patricio saved the shot with his leg.


Sweden beat Turkey to set up Nations League showdown with Russia

Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist lashed home a penalty to secure a 1-0 away win over Turkey in their UEFA Nations League B, Group 2 clash on Saturday, relegating the Turks and setting up a decisive final game against leaders Russia.

Having thrown away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 when the sides met in Stockholm, Sweden coach Janne Andersson sent out a defensively-minded team, with defender Martin Olsson slotting in on the left wing.

Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen made two superb reflex saves and when Granqvist was given the chance from the spot in the 71st minute, after Marcus Berg was pulled down, he made no mistake, rifling the ball low to the keeper's right.

Sweden, with four points after three games, will win the group if they beat Russia, who have seven points, in Stockholm on Tuesday. Turkey, who have three points after four games, drop down to League C.

Scotland boost Nations League promotion chances with win in Albania

Scotland's hopes of earning promotion to League B of the Nations League were boosted after a convincing 4-0 win over 10-man Albania in Shkoder on Saturday.

Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser gave Scotland the lead in the 14th minute, before Albania captain Mergim Mavraj was dismissed after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession seven minutes later.

The visitors took full advantage of the numerical advantage, plundering three more unanswered goals, starting with Steven Fletcher's penalty in first half stoppage time.

James Forrest's second-half double made sure of Alex McLeish's third win of his second spell in charge of Scotland, meaning they can win Nations League Group C1 if they beat Israel at Hampden Park on Tuesday.

Topping their group would also cement a pot three place in the 2020 European Championship qualifying draw, and a playoff spot should they fail to reach the finals directly.

Denmark beat Wales 2-1 to claim Nations League promotion

Denmark strikers Nicolai Joergensen and Martin Braithwaite struck to secure a 2-1 victory over Wales and promotion from Nations League B Group 4 in a pulsating clash on Friday.

The Welsh went behind to Joergensen’s goal before the break and Braithwaite added a second late on before Gareth Bale almost immediately pulled one back but it was too late for the hosts.

Wales looked the more dangerous side early on, displaying their aerial power at set pieces and going close on several occasions before Joergensen struck in the 42nd minute.

Winger Yussuf Poulsen started a counter-attack on the edge of his area before sprinting forward and receiving the ball from midfielder Thomas Delaney. His first-time ball found Joergensen, who slotted it through the legs of goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel had to be at his best to keep out a stunning late free kick by Bale which he palmed away as it arrowed towards the top right-hand corner of his goal.

With two minutes of normal time remaining, Braithwaite collected a throw-in on his chest and clipped a superb volley past Hennessey, and though Bale scored the Danes held on to win.

Gibraltar's promotion dream over after Armenia drubbing

Gibraltar’s hopes of a fairytale promotion from their Nations League group ended as they slumped to a 6-2 home defeat by Armenia on Friday after a disastrous second-half performance.

The result means Macedonia, who beat Liechtenstein 2-0, will be guaranteed promotion if they avoid losing to Gibraltar in Skopje on Sunday. Armenia must beat Liechtenstein and hope Gibraltar win if they are to top the group.

Julio Ribas’s Gibraltar side secured the biggest result in their history when they won 1-0 in Yerevan last month, and it appeared a repeat was on the cards when 19-year-old Tjay de Barr opened the scoring after 10 minutes.

Armenia’s Yura Movsisyan appeared offside as he levelled from close range after 27 minutes and the Chicago Fire striker hit three in the first nine minutes of the second half to take the game away from Gibraltar.

Artur Kartashyan made it five before substitute Adam Priestly restored some pride for the hosts with a fine solo effort. Alexander Karapetian completed the rout in stoppage time.

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