Portugal's Diogo Jota pictured after scoring against Sweden. Armando Franca
Business As Usual

Liverpool striker scores twice as Portugal cruise to victory in Ronaldo's absence

Diogo Jota’s brace helped his side to a comfortable Nations League win over Sweden this evening.

PORTUGAL MADE LIGHT of Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence due to a positive coronavirus test to see off Sweden 3-0 and stay top of their Uefa Nations League group.

A Diogo Jota brace and another strike from Bernardo Silva were enough to stay level on 10 points with France and hold onto first place in League A Group 3.

Ronaldo, who was pictured watching the match on television wearing a Portugal top, was forced to leave the national team camp after returning a positive test for Covid-19 on Tuesday. The Juventus forward returned to Italy today to continue his self-isolation.

His Portugal team-mates had few problems dealing with Sweden, who have now lost all four of their Nations League matches and are rock bottom of the group. The Swedes are three points behind Croatia, who were beaten 2-1 by France.

Silva curled home the opener in the 21st minute thanks to unselfish play from Jota, who laid on the Manchester City midfielder instead of going for goal himself in a promising position.

Fellow Premier League star Jota made it two just before the break when, completely unmarked, he chested down Joao Cancelo’s beautifully flighted pass and slotted home.

The new Liverpool signing then put the result beyond any doubt in the 72nd minute with a superb individual goal, weaving in from the left before drilling a low finish past Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

Kylian Mbappe grabbed a late winner as France edged a 2-1 victory over Croatia in their Nations League clash in Zagreb.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, who earlier missed an open goal, pounced 11 minutes from time to decide this latest re-run of the 2018 World Cup final in France’s favour after Antoine Griezmann’s opener had been cancelled out by Nikola Vlasic.

France, who won 4-2 in the final in Moscow two years ago, also won 4-2 when the sides clashed in Paris in the Nations League last month.

It is now between Portugal and France for top spot in the group and a place in next year’s four-team finals. The sides meet in Portugal on 14 November, having drawn 0-0 in Paris last weekend.

Italy lost top spot in their Nations League group after a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands in Bergamo.

The Azzurri had won 1-0 in Amsterdam last month but have now been held in three of their last four matches, including Sunday’s goalless draw against Poland in Gdansk.

Roberto Mancini’s side drop to second in League A Group 1 on six points, one behind the Poles who beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-0.

The Netherlands are third with five points, with all still to play for as three teams chase a place in the competition finals with two group games left in November.

Italy broke through after a quarter of an hour with Nicolo Barella splitting the Dutch defence with a pass for Lorenzo Pellegrini, who made no mistake from close range.

But Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek drew the Dutch level less than 10 minutes later when he fired home on the rebound from Memphis Depay’s shot. 

© – AFP, 2020

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