After an intriguing battle in Porto on Sunday evening, Portugal came out on top against the Dutch to lift the first ever Nations League trophy.
Playing as hosts, there was a huge amount of optimism from fans of the national team, who were keen to taste further success after the triumph back in 2016. And the players performed to a high standard to make that dream a reality.
Here’s now we adjudged the players to have performed in the final in Porto:
Rui Patricio - 8.5/10
A terrific performance from an exceptional goalkeeper. It wasn’t the hardest day for the Portuguese shot-stopper by any means, but on the day that he became the stand-alone most capped Portuguese goalkeeper of all time, Patricio did everything that was required of him. Dominant in the box at corners and crosses, he came to collect at every given opportunity - and succeeded every time before falling to his chest, clutching the ball to slow down the tempo when Portugal were leading.
He also pulled off several smart stops too, that ricochet off the foot of Wijnaldum that was traveling towards the back of the net but for a smart stop from the Wolves man, while he also not only stopped but gathered a powerful header from Memphis Depay. Just couldn’t be beaten on the day.
Nelson Semedo - 8/10
Another excellent display from the adventurous Barcelona right back in a Portugal shirt. Did his duties defensively superbly - as the whole team did truth be told - but his attacking endeavour was the most telling part as he bounded forwards countless times to help carve through The Netherlands. How he isn’t utilised more regularly at Barcelona, and how they are willing to let him go, are two great mysteries.
Ruben Dias - 9/10
If Nelson Semedo impressed this tournament, then what can one say about Benfica’s Ruben Dias? What a truly phenomenal couple of games he had for the national team at the heart of defence; he was often overshadowed by centreback partner Ferro at club level, but in the Nations League, he stood out as the man for Portugal. His aerial prowess was brilliant as he headed away virtually every ball delivered into the box, while his last-ditch tackling, composure and positional awareness were that of a man much more experienced than him on the international stage. It is no wonder that Manchester United are sniffing around for him. £60million is looking good value for money right now.
Jose Fonte 7/10
Fonte came in for the injured Pepe and did more than an adequate job. Outshone by his younger centreback partner on the night, Fonte still showed that he’s a quality centreback, also clearing balls delivered into the box away with ease. There was that one highly dodgy moment where he somehow let Memphis Depay creep past him in his own box to create a goalscoring opportunity but, other than that, a solid performance.
Raphael Guerreiro - 7/10
An improvement on the last game, certainly defensively, although still had a couple of fairly awkward moments where he failed to close down the right winger suitably. In any case, he, like the team, worked very hard, and, as was the case with Semedo on the opposite side, he was very willing to venture forwards, his pass high up the field to Guedes actually very important in starting the move that led to Portugal’s goal.
Danilo Pereira - 8/10
When he came in for Neves, questions were asked. However, he proved just how brilliant he is in that defensive midfield role. Playing just in front of the centrebacks, his awareness on the pitch was impeccable as he knew when to slot into the backline to fill the holes left by players out of position, while also realising when to press and help out in midfield. Ultimately, he let very little get past him. Disciplined, effective, and generally a very good performance.
William Carvalho - 7/10
By the incredibly high standard William has set himself for the national team, this wasn’t quite at his typical level - though still a very good performance nonetheless. A few highly uncharacteristic wayward passes lose him a point on the overall rating, but still his dominance at both ends of the pitch and his strength and composure made him a powerhouse in midfield yet again and he is undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most important players.
Bruno Fernandes - 7/10
A better performance for Bruno Fernandes today, although perhaps not quite as good as some have suggested. Very much involved in a lot of what Portugal did in the first half with good passing and movement, Fernandes pulled off three long-range shots in the first half, although only one of them was really threatening. Still not quite as effective as we’ve seen him for Sporting, but an improvement on last week.
Bernardo Silva - 9/10
What’s left to say about Bernardo Silva? A tremendous display from the Manchester City magician, who pulled the strings in midfield with his silky dribbling and passing game. His assist was very much deserved, a delightful pull back to Gonçalo Guedes, and he was one of two standout performers on the night for Portugal, the other being Ruben Dias at the other end of the field. The present - and future - of the national team.
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7/10
Cristiano certainly failed to live up to the high, perhaps unattainable, standard he set for himself in the semi-final against Switzerland when he bagged himself a clinical hattrick, although he still contributed a huge amount to the team with his movement and general presence. Heavily marked all match, Ronaldo wasn’t really allowed into the game too much, allowing his colleagues to take more of a central role today. The result may have been very different had Ronaldo not been around though.
Gonçalo Guedes - 7.5/10
Not the most active game for Guedes overall - and indeed he was eventually substituted in the 75th minute for Rafa - although ultimately that one piece of link-up play with Bernardo Silva on the hour mark proved essential, breaking the deadlock and leading Portugal to victory. A very well-taken goal for the Valencia forward.
Rafa Silva - 7/10
The man that came on for Guedes, though, was perhaps more adventurous in 15 minutes than Guedes had been for the rest of the game. Despite only being on the field for a quarter of an hour, the pace of Rafa proved too much for the Dutch defence, proving a constant thorn in the side on the counter attack as he galloped forwards with the ball at his feet. A great cameo appearance to end a great season for Rafa at Benfica.
João Moutinho - 6/10
Another relatively brief appearance for João Moutinho after only playing about 60 seconds of Portugal’s semi-final clash with Switzerland. But Moutinho’s introduction is always a great sight for Portugal, and he helped see the game out in the 12 or so minutes he featured in.
Ruben Neves - N/A
Only came on in stoppage time to waste a bit of time. Another cap to his name though.
Man of the Match: RUBEN DIAS. On a day where the highly praised Virgil van Dijk and De Ligt were playing, Ruben Dias was man of the match. It says it all.