Three games in, the Selecao lead the UEFA Nations League A, Group 2, with seven points – two more than second-placed Spain. Fernando Santos’s men beat the Czech Republic 2-0 on Thursday night, with goals from Joao Cancelo and Goncalo Guedes sealing the deal.
The inaugural Nations League winners had custodian Diogo Costa to thank for keeping them into the game with a crucial save just past the hour mark, mere seconds before they went on to take the lead at the other end. The goalkeeper tightened his angles and matched Jan Kuchta’s shot with a strong fist, parrying the danger away.
Two minutes later, Bernardo Silva reversed a pass into Joao Cancelo’s path; the full-back burst inside the Czech box from the right flank before driving a powerful shot into the far corner – giving Portugal the lead.
Goncalo Guedes doubled the Selecao’s lead in the 38th minute – five minutes after Cancelo’s strike. The attacker timed his run beyond the Czech backline to perfection, got to Bernardo’s pass ahead of his marker, and poked his shot past the goalkeeper from a tight angle.
While Portugal cruised to a win over their opponents, Spain had to fight for it. Off to a poor start in their Nations League campaign, last edition’s semi-finalists needed a win against Switzerland on Thursday night, or they risked falling behind their neighbors in the quest to qualify for the semifinals.
A win was what they got, courtesy of an early goal by Pablo Sarabia. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder tapped the ball into the net for the lead in the 13th minute, but the goal came about from Swiss defender Eray Comert’s loose touch, which Ferran Torres pounced on and played forward to Marcos Llorente – who squared it for a waiting Sarabia, in the middle of the box.
Spain survived a late onslaught from the Swiss and held onto their narrow lead to register their first win of the 2022/23 campaign.