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Portugal, Italy play to a goalless draw

Portugal, Italy play to a goalless draw. The home side had the best chances but were let down by their poor shooting and faded as the game went on. The draw means Portugal cannot be overtaken at the top of the group.

Portugal sealed top spot in Group A3 and a place in the Nations League semi-finals courtesy of a hard-fought point against a wasteful Italy.

With the second-placed Italians having played all four of their games, Portugal end their campaign at home to relegated Poland on Tuesday.

As well as a last-four spot in this inaugural Nations League, reigning European champions Portugal also have the safety net of a play-off game to reach the Euro 2020 finals, should they fail to do so via the traditional qualifying means.

Portugal will play their last-four tie (and possibly the final) on home soil after Uefa announced that the conclusion of the inaugural Nations League would be played in the country, at venues in Porto and Guimaraes in early June 2019.

Portugal

Portugal beat Group A3 rivals Italy and Poland to claim hosting duties, which is expected to be confirmed by Uefa’s Executive Committee at their meeting in Dublin on Monday 3 December – the same day that the draw for the finals takes place.

Ronaldo again absent as Chiellini hits 100

Fernando Santos’ side were once again without their most capped player and record goalscorer, Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo, against the country in which he now plays his football.

The 33-year-old has not retired from the international game but is taking a break following the summer’s World Cup in Russia and his move from Real Madrid to Juve.

His country missed him in Milan. Even with creative players such as Bernardo Silva, Ruben Neves and Andre Silva in the side, they failed to pose a significant threat to the hosts, particularly during a limp first half.

Home keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made just one significant save – albeit a brilliant one – from a long-range William Carvalho shot during an improved second-half showing from the visitors.

One factor that contributed to Portugal’s lack of attacking edge was home defender Giorgio Chiellini, winning his 100th cap, making him the seventh Italian player to reach the milestone.

Captaining the team, he was typically excellent in his reading of the game and defensive duties – summed up by a superb tackle to block a shot from Bruma early in the game.

Unfortunately for the home side, they were found lacking at the other end of the pitch.

Ciro Immobile set the tone, side-footing over from close range after Rui Patricio had palmed out Lorenzo Insigne’s long-range shot.

Other chances fell to Alessandro Florenzi, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Chiesa but each contrived a way to miss the target and their belief in getting a positive result waned during a more predictable second half.

The only consolation for the Italians is that they have done enough over their four games to retain a place in the top tier of the Nations League.

Source: BBC News

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