Portugal and Italy kept hold of first place in their UEFA Nations League groups on Sunday with goalless draws against France and Poland on a night of little drama. In the other match, England defeated Belgium to take the initiative in their pool. There was not much to talk about at the Stade de France as a star-studded line up of players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann failed to muster much of a spectacle in the League A, Group 3 match.
The 1,000 fans gathered in the stadium just outside Paris to watch France host the reigning European champions were treated to just four shots on target.
“We didn’t score a goal, but we weren’t here to score goals,” AFP quoted the Portugal coach Fernando Santos as saying. “France are a great team. They have great players. It’s not always possible to create opportunities.”
Pepe headed home what he thought was a 74th-minute opener when he got on the end of Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick but was flagged offside. Ronaldo, chasing his 102nd international goal, was denied by a flying save from Hugo Lloris in added time.
Mbappe fluffed France’s best when Rui Patricio anticipated his gentle chip when one-on-one with the Portuguese stopper. Both sides are on seven points, four ahead of Croatia, whose 2-1 home win over Sweden earlier on Sunday was the group’s more entertaining match, with a calamitous late lapse from Pontus Jansson allowing the 2018 World Cup finalists to snatch the points in a soaking Zagreb.
Defender Jansson dawdled under a high ball into the penalty area with six minutes remaining and allowed Ivan Perisic to nip in behind. The Inter Milan winger then squared the ball for Andrej Kramaric to tap in from close range. Sweden are stuck on no points after losing all three of their matches.
Italy stretched their unbeaten streak to 18 matches and held onto top spot in League A, Group 1 with their stalemate in Gdansk.
New Juventus signing Federico Chiesa missed the chance to win the match for the dominant ‘Azzurri’ from close range in the 11th minute.,Roberto Mancini’s side are one point ahead of the Netherlands, who also drew 0-0 with Bosnia and Herzegovina, ahead of their meeting in Bergamo on Wednesday.