N’Golo Kante made all the difference while Cristiano Ronaldo was left frustrated as France beat Portugal 1-0 to seal a place in the UEFA Nations League Finals.

It was a night when both the goalkeepers were kept busy between the sticks. Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Martial were those culpable of spurning the chances, although clear-cut opportunities reduced as the game went on.

In the end, N’Golo Kante’s solitary goal earned France a place in the UEFA Nations League Finals, and it was some clever work by the 29-year-old, who was alert to bundle a rebound from Rui Patricio’s save to win his side the game. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sides.

Portugal

Rui Patricio: 6/10

All through the game, Rui Patricio looked in great touch and made a number of superb saves, bar one moment. That solitary instance was when N’Golo Kante scored, following a weak stop by the Portugal no. 1, undoing all the fine work he had done till that moment.

Embed from Getty Images

Joao Cancelo: 6/10

A game of two halves for Cancelo, who was not involved a great deal in the first 45 minutes but came to life post the break. Whipped in several dangerous crosses, only for them to not meet their man. Solid defensively.

Jose Fonte: 6/10

A decent display by Fonte, although he faced some nervy moments against Anthony Martial. The veteran defender, though, won 4 duels and made 3 clearances while hardly losing the ball cheaply.

Ruben Dias: 6.5/10

Much like Fonte, Dias did a reasonably solid job, winning 7 duels, completing 4 tackles and making 3 clearances. Misplaced just 5 passes all game.

Raphael Guerreiro: 5/10

A game of hits and misses for Guerreiro, who was one of the more creative players in the game. Played 3 key passes but was caught napping when Kante scored the winner by getting past him.

Bruno Fernandes: 6.5/10

The most creative player on the pitch, Bruno Fernandes played as many as 4 key passes while coming close with an effort of his own. Put in a shift defensively as well.

Danilo Pereira: 5/10

Stationed at the base of the three-man midfield, Danilo was overrun in the middle of the park, with Antoine Griezmann pulling the strings for France. Hardly got involved defensively.

William Carvalho: 5/10

Like Danilo, Carvalho was in-charge of shoring up the defensive side of things but hardly made a defensive action against France. However, he was extremely accurate with the ball at his feet, which aided Portugal’s build-up.

Bernardo Silva: 5.5/10

For a player who was supposed to pull the strings along with Bruno Fernandes for Portugal, Silva was quite anonymous. The 26-year-old attempted just 16 passes all game, although he did create a chance. Underwhelming.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 6/10

The most involved Portugal player, Ronaldo took the most shots in the game (6), but managed to keep just one of those on target. That shot drew a fine save from Hugo Lloris, but Ronaldo needed to do better on the day.

Joao Felix: 5/10

Felix saw a lot of the ball and stitched up a fine understanding with Guerreiro on the left flank. But, his end product was sorely lacking on the night and that ultimately had a role to play in Portugal’s struggles.

SUBSTITUTES

Diogo Jota: 5/10

On for Carvalho, Jota was quite sub-par to say the least as he took no shots, created no chances and hardly saw the ball in over 30 minutes on the pitch.

Joao Moutinho: 6.5/10

It says a lot about Portugal’s collective performance in the game that a substitute who was on the pitch for just 20 minutes was one of their best in the match. Moutinho, though, did impress in his cameo, forcing Lloris into a fine save and creating a decent chance as well.

Francisco Trincao: 5/10

On for Bernardo Silva, Trincao was hardly involved and his only attempted shot was off target. Did complete each of his attempted passes, though.

Sergio Oliveira: N/A

Subbed in with 5 minutes left in the game, Sergio Oliveira hardly had time to make an impact.

Paulinho: N/A

After a fine debut, Paulinho did not really get a chance to make the difference here, against France.

France

Hugo Lloris: 8/10

A top-class display by Lloris, who led by example for France. The veteran goalkeeper made 6 saves, some of which were right out the top drawer. Saw a lot of the ball as well, aiding France’s build-up.

Benjamin Pavard: 7/10

An uncharacteristic evening for Pavard, who had more defensive work to do than in the final third. The youngster’s numbers at the back were simply fantastic – 3 clearances, 3 interceptions, 9 duels won and 4 tackles.

Presnel Kimpembe: 8/10

Back into the starting lineup ahead of Clement Lenglet, Kimpembe was a rock at the back for France, with nothing going past him on Saturday. The young centre-back made a couple of critical interceptions while clearing the ball 4 times as well. Misplaced just one pass all game.

Raphael Varane: 7/10

Varane was also quite solid at the heart of France’s defence, making 6 clearances while losing the ball just twice. Quite a confidence booster after the disastrous outing against Valencia in Real Madrid colours.

Lucas Hernandez: 7/10

A solid effort by Lucas Hernandez, who won 7 duels in what was an engrossing battle with Cancelo. Delivered a couple of dangerous crosses, but Martial could not apply the finishing touches.

N’Golo Kante: 9/10

The standout player in the game, Kante was a colossus in the game. Playing in his most favoured position, the Chelsea superstar was everywhere on the night, covering up at the back and finding the back of the net in the final third. An absolute gem.

Adrien Rabiot: 8/10

Impressive performance by Rabiot, who has well and truly won over Didier Deschamps following his reaction to being excluded from the 2018 World Cup squad. Involved a great deal in the Portugal half, he played 2 key passes and it was hist shot that was rebounded towards Kante.

Paul Pogba: 8/10

Coming into the game on the back of some explosive comments by Deschamps, Pogba made a point against Portugal with a solid performance. Completed the most passes (65) and won the most duels (9), thereby making an impact in both halves. Just the kind of performances he needed to get back on track.

Antoine Griezmann: 6.5/10

The most creative player for France, Griezmann looked in great sync with Martial, creating 3 chances. However, the Manchester United striker was not in his elements, meaning Griezmann’s efforts were for naught. Did all he could, though.

Anthony Martial: 5/10

One of the worst players in the game. While Martial drew a top save from Rui Patricio, he should have done better for the other openings he was provided – he missed 4 big chances against Portugal. In need of some inspiration.

Kingsley Coman: 6/10

One of the least involved players for France. But, Coman did force Patricio into a solid stop and played 1 key pass as well. Decent effort.

SUBSTITUTES

Marcus Thuram: 6/10

Put in a shift after coming on. Thuram won 4 duels and hardly misplaced passes. Was not set up for a chance, though.

Olivier Giroud: N/A

On for the final 12 minutes, Giroud helped see the game out.

Leave A Comment...

*