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Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic: Seleção stay top of group

First-half strikes from João Cancelo and Gonçalo Guedes kept Portugal top of Group A2.

Highlights: Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic

João Cancelo and Gonçalo Guedes struck in the first half as Portugal stayed two points above Spain at the top of Group A2.

Key moments

31' Diogo Costa denies Kuchta
33' João Cancelo fires opener
38' Gonçalo Guedes slots in
60' Jurečka drills narrowly wide
61' Staněk parries Diogo Jota shot
88' Vlkanova sends shot wide

Match in brief: Clinical Portugal purr against Czechs

Entering the game unbeaten after giving Spain a scare on Matchday 2, the visitors showed patience and poise in the opening stages, soaking up pressure and going closest when Jan Kuchta's strike was palmed behind by Diogo Costa.

João Cancelo's stunning opener for Portugal

Bernardo Silva's ingenuity on the right proved pivotal for Portugal, setting up Manchester City team-mate João Cancelo to fire in the opener and, five minutes later, finding the run of Gonçalo Guedes, who rolled a neat finish beyond Jindřich Staněk from a tight angle.

Jaroslav Šilhavý made three changes at the break, partly in an attempt to shore up his side on the left. When the Czechs broke rapidly from a corner, Václav Jurečka could only shoot wide in ample space inside the penalty area, leaving the backtracking home defence a picture of collective relief.

As it happened: Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic


Portugal regained the momentum almost instantly, Diogo Jota's shot from distance stinging Staněk's palms. The 2019 UEFA Nations League winners dominated possession as they cruised through the remainder of the second half, although Czech debutant Adam Vlkanova might have halved the deficit with two minutes remaining but failed to capitalise on a clear sight of goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo skippered Portugal and proved a persistent threat
Cristiano Ronaldo skippered Portugal and proved a persistent threatGetty Images

Carlos Machado, match reporter

Portugal showed their superiority and look to be in a battle with Spain for supremacy in Group A2. The quality of their players all over the pitch made the difference, and the hosts also demonstrated the patience that Fernando Santos wanted them to in order to defeat a determined and competitive Czech Republic side.

Reaction

Fernando Santos, Portugal coach: "It is always important not to concede. The result is more than fair. In the first 20 minutes we controlled the game with a good start and possession, but we were not very productive. But we controlled the game and did not allow any counterattacks from the Czech Republic. We scored two goals but could have scored two more."

Gonçalo Guedes, Portugal attacker: “We played a great game. We knew that the Czech Republic were going to present a close block and we tried to take advantage of the spaces and move the ball quickly. We managed to do that and scored two goals. In the second half we tried to score more, but the Czech Republic are a good team and have their strengths. They tried to cancel us out and that's what they did. We wanted more goals but it was an important victory.”

Portugal are two points clear in Group A2 after a second successive win without conceding
Portugal are two points clear in Group A2 after a second successive win without concedingGetty Images

Jaroslav Šilhavý, Czech Republic coach: "We did not play as well as we did against Spain, when we carefully defended. We made two tactical mistakes and allowed two goals. We improved in the second half and had chances — it is a pity we did not score, as we could have made it more interesting."

Michal Sadílek, Czech Republic midfielder: "Portugal were a better side, everybody saw that. But we had our chances; I also had a good one in the first half and it could have been different. I did not hit the ball ideally. We allowed two easy goals on the left but we improved the block in the second half."

Jakub Brabec, Czech Republic defender: "It was an experience to defend against Ronaldo but there were a lot of superb players around him as well. It is a bit of a paradox, but we were more on the ball tonight than against Spain."

Key stats

  • Portugal have won their last three matches against Czech Republic.
  • The Seleção have lost one of their 15 most recent UEFA Nations League games, winning ten.
  • They have won six of their last seven home fixtures.
  • Fernando Santos was victorious on his 100th match in charge of Portugal.
  • Gonçalo Guedes scored on the third anniversary of his match-winning goal in the UEFA Nations League final against the Netherlands.
  • Czech Republic have lost only two of their last nine games, winning four.
The Portugal starting XI
The Portugal starting XIGetty Images

Line-ups

Portugal: Diogo Costa; João Cancelo, Pepe, Danilo, Guerreiro; Gonçalo Guedes (João Palhinha 88), William Carvalho (Bruno Fernandes 68), Rúben Neves (João Moutinho 88); Ronaldo, Diogo Jota (Rafael Leão 80), Bernardo Silva (Vitinha 68)

Czech Republic: Staněk; Zima, Brabec, Matějů (Král 80); Coufal, Souček, Sadílek, Havel (Jemelka 46); Lingr (Pešek 46), Kuchta (Jurečka 46), Hložek (Vlkaonva 73)

Group 2 Live now

Played P Won W Draws D Lost L For Against Goal difference Points Pts
ESP Spain
Playing now
4 2 2 0 6 3 3 8
POR Portugal
Playing now
4 2 1 1 7 2 5 7
CZE Czech Republic
Playing now
4 1 1 2 4 7 -3 4
SUI Switzerland
Playing now
4 1 0 3 2 7 -5 3

What happens after the UEFA Nations League group stage?

The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout finals with, in principle, one appointed as hosts. The semi-finals will be played on 14 and 15 June 2023 with the final and third-place play-off to follow on 18 June.

The teams finishing fourth in the groups in League A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.