• Nations League wrap: France, Belgium, Portugal win, England held

    Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th and 101st international goal as Portugal beat Sweden 2-0 in the Uefa Nations League, while France beat Croatia 4-2, Belgium beat Iceland 5-1 and England were held to a 0-0 draw with Denmark.

    Portugal 2-0 Sweden

    Cristiano Ronaldo’s 100th and 101st international goals helped Portugal to a 2-0 Nations League win away at 10-man Sweden.

    Ronaldo became just the second men’s player to a century of strikes for his country as he netted a stunning free kick late in the first half in Stockholm on Tuesday.

    That effort came after Gustav Svensson was sent off for the home side, who never threatened to rescue a result, with Ronaldo instead adding another wonderful goal after the break.

    Having also thrashed Croatia last week, Portugal – winners of the inaugural Nations League – top Group A3 just ahead of world champions France through two matches.

    Fernando Santos’ men survived an early scare as Marcus Berg wastefully skewed a header wide, although the visitors were similarly profligate as Pepe failed to turn in a glorious cross from Bernardo Silva, who was injured in the process.

    Ronaldo was twice then denied his milestone goal as Robin Olsen made a pair of instinctive stops with his legs, blocking a snapshot on the turn before diverting a powerful one-on-one blast on to the crossbar and over.

    But the game was taken away from Sweden on the brink of half time as Svensson, already booked, lunged in recklessly on Joao Moutinho and was shown a second yellow card.

    Ronaldo dispatched the subsequent free kick into the top-left corner to finally bring up his ton after a near 10-month wait.

    Portugal toiled in pursuit of a second and Bruno Fernandes prodded against the bar, so it was predictably left to Ronaldo to make the points safe, his 101st goal at this level a beautiful effort curled over Olsen into the top-right corner.

    Joao Felix might have added his name to the scoresheet in the closing stages but could not stretch to reach Fernandes’ low ball and then found Olsen his equal.

    France 4-2 Croatia

    France came from behind to defeat Croatia 4-2 in a replay of the 2018 World Cup final on Tuesday.

    Didier Deschamps’ side won by the same scoreline when the teams met in Moscow two years ago and they came out on top again in the Nations League Group A3 clash at the Stade de France.

    A fine strike from Dejan Lovren put the visitors in front, but Antoine Griezmann struck and Dominik Livakovic scored an unfortunate own goal in the space of three first-half minutes to turn the game around.

    Substitute Josip Brekalo restored parity after the restart, only for Dayot Upamecano’s header and a penalty from Olivier Giroud to keep Les Bleus level with Portugal at the top of the group.

    Croatia took the lead in the 16th minute when Lovren exquisitely controlled a looping ball, beating Lucas Hernandez with a fine first touch and then firing a low effort beyond Hugo Lloris.

    Griezmann was denied by the leg of Livakovic in the 33rd minute, though the goalkeeper could not stop the Barcelona forward adding a fine finish to a slick move two minutes before the break.

    Les Bleus were in front before half time as Anthony Martial’s attempt from Wissam Ben Yedder’s excellent low cross hit the post and rebounded in off the back of Livakovic.

    Brekalo replaced Ante Rebic for the second half and scored within 10 minutes after evading Ferland Mendy to latch onto Mateo Kovacic’s stunning throughball.

    Deschamps responded by sending on Eduardo Camavinga – who, at 17 years and 303 days old, became France’s youngest debutant since 1914 – and Giroud, but it was Upamecano who rose highest to head home Griezmann’s corner shortly after the hour mark.

    Giroud tucked home from the penalty spot 13 minutes from time after Marcelo Brozovic was penalised for handball, while Nikola Vlasic saw a late 20-yard drive cannon back off the upright as Croatia were defeated by a familiar scoreline.

    Belgium 5-1 Iceland

    Belgium moved two points clear at the top of their Nations League group as they came from behind to thump Iceland 5-1.

    Roberto Martinez’s men fell behind in bizarre fashion through Holmbert Fridjonsson’s deflected effort that marked the first of three goals in seven minutes.

    Axel Witsel promptly levelled and Michy Batshuayi made it 2-1 to hosts Belgium, who spurned further first-half chances to extend the lead.

    But Dries Mertens put Belgium firmly in command early in the second half before Batshuayi doubled his tally and Jeremy Doku bent home a brilliant first senior international goal.

    It is a win that gives them breathing room from England in Group A2 after Gareth Southgate’s men were held to a goalless draw by Denmark.

    The flurry of goals started in remarkable fashion in the 10th minute when Fridjonsson’s effort from the edge of the area deflected off Jason Denayer and over the head of a helpless Koen Casteels.

    Iceland’s lead lasted just three minutes when Witsel’s effort crossed the line before being cleared, the Borussia Dortmund man pouncing after Ogmundur Kristinsson tipped Mertens’ free kick on to the crossbar.

    And Witsel was heavily involved when the turnaround was completed in the 17th minute as Kristinsson could only parry his low effort as far as Batshuayi, who tucked home from point-blank range.

    Belgium then could have put daylight between themselves and the visitors but Mertens fired over the bar.

    Kristinsson denied Mertens shortly before half time but five minutes into the second half, after Kevin De Bruyne’s shot narrowly deflected wide, the Napoli forward atoned for his earlier miss.

    De Bruyne was typically to the fore as, following the resulting corner, he slid a neat pass into Mertens, who cut inside off his left foot to fire into the bottom-left corner.

    Casteels was forced off and replaced by Simon Mignolet following a collision with Jon Fjoluson but that was a minor blemish on a triumph that became more emphatic in the 69th minute.

    Witsel was twice denied before De Bruyne played in substitute Yari Verschaeren, whose cutback was flicked home by Batshuayi.

    Doku applied the finishing touches, collecting a wonderful pass from De Bruyne before coming in from the left and curling a sublime finish into the top-right corner.

    England 0-0 Denmark

    England’s switch to a 3-4-3 set-up yielded scant rewards in a 0-0 Nations League draw with Denmark in Copenhagen.

    Southgate’s preparations for the match were thrown into flux when Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were banished from the squad for breaking coronavirus protocols in the aftermath of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Iceland.

    Conor Coady and Kalvin Phillips made their debuts but a solitary blocked shot was all England had to show for their forgettable first-half efforts, with Kasper Dolberg almost giving Denmark a deserved lead.

    Harry Kane had a stoppage-time effort hacked off the line by Mathias Jorgensen when Kasper Schmeichel erred, but that near-outcome would have flattered England.

    Southgate’s tactical switch had his side control significant chunks of possession early on, although the front three of Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and captain Kane were frequently isolated.

    Denmark went closest to the breakthrough before half time – Barcelona forward Martin Braithwaite flashing a 31st-minute shot past the post from the edge of the area before Dolberg brought a fine save from Jordan Pickford, Christian Eriksen having left former Tottenham teammate Eric Dier in his wake.

    Eriksen clumping a 65th-minute free kick high into the stand behind Pickford was a less astute contribution to a contest that continued to plod.

    England belatedly crafted a clear opening with a little over 20 minutes remaining, with Kane unable to convert Kieran Trippier’s left-wing cross at the far post.

    Kasper Schmeichel then saved unconvincingly from Sterling, with Mason Mount’s introduction in place of Sancho having belatedly injected some playmaking impetus for the visitors.

    Eriksen hacked over from 10 yards under timely pressure from Joe Gomez before Kane almost made it two last-gasp wins from two.

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