Portugal on verge of the semi-finals after inspiring victory over Poland
Portugal played their part in what was an entertaining clash with Poland in the UEFA Nations League, earning a 3-2 victory without captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
The victory sees Portugal extend their lead at the top of the table after beating Italy last month, sitting on six points from two games, 5 points ahead of both Italy and Poland.
It also means that Portugal cannot be relegated from Division A, an outstanding achievement for the Seleção having only reached the halfway point of the campaign. Portugal also know that they will be guaranteed a spot on top of the table without having to kick another ball if Italy and Poland draw next week, which would see them advance to the last four of the inaugural competition.
Portugal were, for the most part, a joy to watch from a Seleção perspective, really showing outstanding flexibility, able to carry out three different gameplans within just one fixture: attacking with fluidity when chasing the game, controlling the game when trying to break the opposition momentum, and defending resiliently when trying to grind out the result. It was an excellent team display from the 20th minute onwards, which can give supporters great confidence that there is a bright future awaiting even when Ronaldo does hang up his boots.
Poland were the side to pull in front though, with Piatek heading home from a corner. But Portugal responded fairly quickly, a glorious forward move rounded off by Andre Silva, who tapped home Pizzi's low cross.
Portugal earned the lead heading into the break when Ruben Neves played a sublime pass over the top of both the Polish defence and midfield to meet the run of Rafa, who rounded the keeper before Glik put the ball into the back of his own net to complete Portugal's first half comeback.
And Portugal showed their impressive attacking ability for their third goal too, turning defence into attack with an excellent counter-attacking move, moving the ball upfield with high intensity and quick passing, before man of the match nominee Willam Carvalho played in Bernardo Silva, who took his time to slot home past Fabianski on the edge of the box.
Portugal controlled the game impressively from then on, dictating the play and forcing Poland to use up their energy to try and win back the ball. But having looked comfortable, some poor defending from Mario Rui and Pepe gave Blaszczykowski the opportunity to smash the ball past Patricio with twelve minutes to go.
It set up a potentially tense end to the game for Portugal, but with Fernando Santos bringing on Danilo Pereira and Renato Sanches to play alongside William Carvalho and Ruben Neves, there was a huge level of physicality and defensive ability in the centre of midfield which proved too tough for Poland.
And it was Portugal that had the two best chances of the game in the final 10 minutes, Renato first coming close having rounded the keeper only to have his shot cleared off the line, while substitute Bruno Fernandes then powered his shot over the bar with the goal unguarded. Ultimately, however, Fernando Santos will be delighted with what he saw from his side, with the side carrying great confidence into their next match - a friendly clash with Scotland next week.