Semifinalists Crowned in Exciting UEFA Nations League Matchday 6
Once considered a controversial decision, the football community has started to welcome the newly inaugurated UEFA Nations League. With just the past week’s matches to judge on, it would be easy to understand why.
Matchday 6 at the three of the four first division groups saw three teams qualify in exciting fashion to the next stage. Here are the international football matches that sealed three nations’ slots into the UEFA Nations League semifinals.
Well-Fought Draw Enough for Euro Champs Portugal
With still one match left to play, and with only a point needed to qualify, reigning European champions Portugal secured one spot at the semifinals after withstanding a dominant but wasteful Italian side at San Siro in Italy.
Italy—reinforced with attacking talents in Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile—bossed the match with more ball possession and shots attempted. However, they squandered their chances.
Portugal also failed to capitalize with their chances, with an abysmal shot accuracy of less just one in nine attempts. This, however, is a Portuguese side that continuously refused to call up five-time player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo.
As Portugal moves to the next stage, Italy remains in this three-nation group while Poland heads down to the B-level.
World Cup Revenge Secured for England
In the FIFA World Cup 2018 semifinal in Russia, eventual runner-up Croatia crushed the English dreams 2-1 at extra time. At the new Wembley, the Three Lions has retaliated perfectly by beating their then-conquerors with the same score.
Croatian Andrej Kramaric struck first after a deflected shot beat English keeper Jordan Pickford early into the second half. England, however, was the better team among the two throughout the course of the game, and it eventually showed in the scoreline.
Jesse Lingard slotted one in to equalize at the 78th minute before England captain Harry Kane slid another to send England into the Nations League semifinals.
The 2-1 defeat proved to be the nail in the proverbial coffin for Croatia as the Balkan state was also relegated to the second division. Spain, the third party in the group, finished second in the group.
Belgians Shocked by Superb Swiss
Incase you missed the Switzerland Belgium 7 goal thriller & wonderful comeback from the Shaq team 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/o6Qoun4D3X
— Omope Abdul Azeez (@Iam_Abdulaxis) November 19, 2018
Belgium needed only a point to secure qualification to the semifinals. Being the third placer in this year’s World Cup, everyone expected them to easily cruise through Switzerland at the Swissporarena in Lucerne.
And it looked business as usual for the Red Devils, with an early brace from Thorgan Hazard just 17 minutes in. However, they did not anticipate—nor did anyone—that the Swiss would not only recover from an early setback but would also come back rampaging.
Five unanswered goals—a perfect hat-trick coming from Haris Seferovic—against a stunned Belgian side sent the Red Crosses to the semifinals, much to the surprise of everyone. Meanwhile, pointless Iceland heads to the lower division.
One semifinal slot remains for the Nations League semifinal. Reigning World champions France leads Group 1 with just a point. They will be looking keenly at the match at the HDI Arena in Germany, where the second-place Dutch squad can steal the spot from the French with a win against the struggling and already relegated Germany.