Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes were the stars of the show as Portugal swept aside the Czech Republic in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday.
Former champions Portugal put in a dominant performance away to the Czech Republic, regaining top spot in Group A2 of their UEFA Nations League fixture. With just a game to go, Fernando Santos’s side are now primed to qualify for the finals.
Manchester United aces Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes were the stars of the show in the 4-0 rout. The former opened the scoring in the first half before the latter made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time. Fernandes provided the assist to Dalot’s second and Portugal’s third on the night before Diogo Jota rounded off the win late on.
With Spain losing on the night, the Seleccao moved up to the top spot ahead of the blockbuster clash between the two sides next week. As long as Cristiano Ronaldo and co. avoid defeat there, they will end the group stages as the numero uno side in the lot.
Saturday was the first time the Czech Republic failed to find the back of the net at home in a Nations League tie. The fact that Portugal held them to a shutout despite having several players missing in their backline speaks highly of their display. With the World Cup coming up, it would appear that the Seleccao are finding their form at the right time. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Portugal players fared on the night.
Diogo Costa: 6/10
The FC Porto goalkeeper was an assured presence at the back and kept things simple. He was never quite put under sustained pressure but came up trumps when needed. Costa’s distribution could do with some tinkering, but it was an otherwise acceptable performance against albeit limited opposition.
Diogo Dalot: 9/10
The Manchester United star continues to go from strength to strength and was his side’s standout player on the night. Dalot broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark and was also solid defensively. He also knocked the wind out of the Czech Republic’s sails in the second half with his second goal of the night. Dalot linked up well with Bruno Fernandes, and the duo caused mayhem down the right-hand side.
Diogo Dalot’s game by numbers vs. Czech Republic:
100% tackles won
100% dribbles completed
94% pass accuracy
49 passes completed
2/3 ground duels won
2 long balls completed
2 shots on target
Continues his electric form. ⚡ pic.twitter.com/PijaEMncYg
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 24, 2022
Ruben Dias: 6/10
The Manchester City defender did well against Patrik Schick and marshalled the backline well. This was especially true when the home side looked to ramp up the pressure in the second half. Dias held firm and did not take any unnecessary risks.
Danilo Pereira: 6/10
The Paris Saint-Germain man was the perfect foil for Dias and linked up well with the Portuguese rearguard. Danilo made way for Joao Mario late on with the game settled.
Mario Rui: 7/10
Rui got the nod over Nuno Mendes and did little wrong to change Santos’s mind. With Raphael Guerreiro injured, the Napoli defender has an excellent opportunity to make a name for himself. His good form at the club level certainly translated onto the field for Portugal, and Rui was solid if unspectacular.
Ruben Neves: 7/10
The Wolverhampton Wanderers captain did his reputation no harm with a dominant display in the middle of the park. He shielded Portugal’s backline well and also made up for William Carvalho’s deficiencies on the night. The solid foundation offered by Neves helped Bruno Fernandes focus upfield, where the Manchester United talisman made a telling impact.
William Carvalho: 5/10
The Portuguese midfielder was not at his best on the night and was sloppy in possession. The Czech Republic certainly saw him as the weak link in the visitors’ double pivot and could have taken advantage, had they been more decisive. Carvalho was eventually taken off for Joao Palhinha in the second half.
Bernardo Silva: 6/10
It was a rather subdued performance from the Manchester City man, who is often an electric presence on the field. Silva did get into some good positions and also linked up play with those around him. However, it lacked his usual decisive touch and was far from a vintage performance.
Bruno Fernandes: 9/10
Bruno Fernandes was offered the protection of a double pivot behind him and he took full advantage of the setup. The free role afforded him the freedom to pull strings in attack and carve open the home defence numerous times. Fernandes got himself a goal and an assist on the night and could have contributed to so much more, had his teammates been more clinical.
Bruno Fernandes Vs. Czech :
• 77 minutes
• 66 % accurate passes
• 1 goal
• 1 assist
• 5 most chances created
• 3 most big chances created
• 3 throws
• 2 clearance
• 2 headed clearance
• 1 interception
• 1 tackle
• 5 recoveries
Incredible, Masterpiece ? pic.twitter.com/QdtoO8KxWz
— َ (@FernandesZone) September 24, 2022
Rafael Leao: 7/10
The reigning Serie A MVP was an electric presence down the left and provided the assist for Dalot’s opener. He also carved open a couple of opportunities for Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo, but nothing came out of it. While Leao might not have gotten himself on the scoresheet, it was an assured performance from him on the night. He made way for Diogo Jota in the 67th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 4/10
The Manchester United attacker was arguably Portugal’s worst player on the field. He might have gotten himself a late assist, but Ronaldo failed to make the most of his several opportunities count and also gave away a penalty that Patrik Schick contrived to miss. Portugal want Ronaldo to get back to his electrifying best, but they might be better off deploying Jota upfront.
Diogo Jota: 8/10
The Liverpool midfielder replaced Leao in the 67th minute and was a lively presence on the field. Jota grabbed himself a fine goal in the 82nd minute and appears to be regaining his best form ahead of the FIFA World Cup.
Ricardo Horta: 6/10
Horta replaced Bernardo Silva in the second half but failed to have any standout moments.
Joao Palhinha: 6/10
Palhinha replaced the underwhelming Carvalho and brought solidity to Portugal’s midfield.
Matheus Nunes: 6/10
The Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder replaced Bruno Fernandes in the second half, giving the Manchester United ace a well-deserved rest. Nunes lacked his compatriot’s attacking impetus but was solid enough to help see the game through.
Joao Mario: N/A
He replaced Danilo Pereira in the 84th minute as Portugal saw the game through.
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