Spain 1-1 Portugal

Portugal once again flattered to deceive for long stretches, but they held on, reconstituted themselves in the second half and bagged a well-earned point at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

Braga's Ricardo Horta was the difference-maker, cancelling Alvaro Morata's opener after Leão missed a couple of decent opportunities earlier on. 

O Engenheiro selected another provocative starting XI with Cristiano Ronaldo rested in favor of André Silva and Danilo partnering Pepe in defence. Four regular defensive midfielders notwithstanding, Santos started João Moutinho at the base of Portugal's 4-3-3. Rafael Leão was rewarded with his first start for the senior side following his breakout Serie A campaign with champions AC Milan.

The match almost immediately settled into a predictable pattern with Spain on the ball and Portugal compact and looking for opportunities on the counter. Gavira fired a warning shot off-target early on, but neither side threatened in the opening quarter hour. 

Suddenly Portugal broke into the Spanish penalty area on 17 minutes when Guerreiro burst past his marker and squared for Leão, but young winger put far too much power behind his shot and lifted it well over the bar, a let-off for the hosts. 

Portugal were reasonably composed and began launching passes over the Spanish defence to get Leão and Bernardo more into the match. But then, against expected proceedings, Spain hit Portugal on the counterttack. Bruno Fernandes missed a challenge on Gavira, allowing the 17-yr-old to play through Sarabia down the right. The Sporting winger's square pass found Morata completely unmarked, an easy finish for the Juventus forward.

Gavi opened up Portugal again minutes later, playing a cross to Carlos Soler, but Diogo Costa denied his effort and Soler sent the rebound over the bar. Cancelo played a neat ball into André Silva in the 35th minute, and the Leipzig striker's swivel created enough space to get a shot off, but it sailed yards wide of the left upright.

Moutinho hacked down Morata in a dangerous position and Sarabia very nearly made the visitors pay with a free kick sent narrowly wide of Costa's goal. 

Santos wisely replaced João Moutinho with Rúben Neves to start the second half. Portugal pressed the hosts up the pitch and forced several corners, but still could not create meaningful threat. Otávio cleared a wonderful cross from the right before it found Morata.

 

 

Leão then missed another glorious chance to score after great work by André Silva. The AC Milan starlet received Silva's pas and took a smart touch to step inside his marker, but Unai Simon spread himself well and deflected the shot wide of the left upright. 

Ronaldo and Guedes entered the fray with slightly less than a half hour to play. Gavi continued to cause Portugal problems with his throughball setting up Morata to shoot wide. But Spain were in fairly assured control at this point, and Portugal's possession was unproductive.

Ricardo Horta then came on and the match changed. Cancelo burst down the right wing, got his head up and played an inch-perfect cross to Horta, who made no mistake to draw Portugal level with his first ever senior side goal. 

Spain were up for the challenge though and Jordi Alba missed an absolute sitter after Costa's poor clearance. But Costa darted off his line to clear a dangerous cross moments later. Olmo had the final opportunity, but his shot sailed wide and Portugal had sealed a crucial point.

Called up for the first time since 2014, Ricardo Horta proved his merit within ten minutes of stepping onto the pitch. Leão showed he offers something different when on the ball, but will surely be disappointed he missed both opportunities to score. Moutinho was completely overrun in holding midfield, and neither Bruno nor Otávio seemed particularly comfortable. Pepe again kick-started Portugal's forward momentum created with long passes over the defence. But Portugal again labored to create decent chances and will continue to search for some sense of identity as the Nations League progresses.

Portugal play three additional Nations League matches this month before the summer break resumes. 

Lineups

Portugal: Diogo Costa – Raphael Guerreiro, Danilo Pereira, Pepe, João Cancelo - João Moutinho (Neves, 46’), Bruno Fernandes, Otávio (Cristiano Ronaldo, 62') - Rafael Leão, André Silva (Guedes, 62') Bernardo Silva

Spain: Unai Simon - Azpilicueta, Llorente, Torres, Alba - Soler, Busquets, Gavira - Sarabia, Morata, Torres

Goals:

[1-0] – Morata, 25’

[1-1] – Horta, 82'

by Nathan Motz

 

Comments (27)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

A good result for us. Hopefully we can build off of it with the 2nd half being more indicative of who we really are. That laser guided cross by Cancelo reminds me why he was so missed at the Euro.

Nelson
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Bruno and moutinho can not be starting! We could’ve won this game if we started with a better midfield. We needed more legs/speed in the midfield.

Ozzy
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They say the goal is to draw away and win at home against the second best team in the group. So a draw in Spain is not bad.

The Danilo - Pepe pairing did pretty well but hopefully either Duarte or Inacio manage to get integrated in the...

They say the goal is to draw away and win at home against the second best team in the group. So a draw in Spain is not bad.

The Danilo - Pepe pairing did pretty well but hopefully either Duarte or Inacio manage to get integrated in the squad too. Playing without a defensive midfielder seemed suicidal, always passing backwards became very predictable towards the end of the game, but the team looked pretty competitive overall. I mean this was an experimental squad against a very strong opponent like for example having Danilo as a central defender against a team who can attack creatively, using Moutinho, Bernardo and Bruno F. in the same midfield line, pairing Leao with Andre Silva; all these moves against an opponent like Spain seem quite daring.

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Samuel
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I am a Santos supporter, but there must be something that he sees in Danilo playing CB. (Unless he is playing that at PSG?)

John
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Santos has no choice, there aren't any other proven CB's, unless you want Fonte(he needs to retire from NT).

The irony of Santos using Danilo as CB, is that he told the Tuchel, who was PSG coach when Danilo first got there, that even though he...

Santos has no choice, there aren't any other proven CB's, unless you want Fonte(he needs to retire from NT).

The irony of Santos using Danilo as CB, is that he told the Tuchel, who was PSG coach when Danilo first got there, that even though he could play CB, he was really a Mid. Tuchel was using him at CB more often than at DM.

If he had just shut up, maybe Danilo would have played more at CB(and got more experiance) and Marquinhos would have played more at DM.

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Paulo
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No choices inacio carmo are just 2 good choices that vila crnter back should be snapped up too...

danilo ffs fonte ffs duarte ffs...

santos is a whopper

Tomas Sheehan
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I'm pretty sure Danilo played mostly as a midfielder for PSG during the season. In the absence of Ruben Dias, Fonte is the second best defender. However Danilo is much faster than Fonte and also a bit more physically strong. So playing Danilo...

I'm pretty sure Danilo played mostly as a midfielder for PSG during the season. In the absence of Ruben Dias, Fonte is the second best defender. However Danilo is much faster than Fonte and also a bit more physically strong. So playing Danilo allows Santos to have a more advanced defensive line, permitting the team to have a higher engagement line (press higher) while keeping a compact formation. Playing Fonte requires the team to defend with a lower block so the fast-paced players of the opposing team won't make devastating runs in behind the Portuguese line, resulting in the team being unable to press aggressively or being overstretched at times. And when the team was controlling the game against weaker opponents, they were susceptible to high-tempo counterattacks. I think Danilo is generally a better fit for the team Portugal has now.

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Samuel
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Disclaimer: Not a Danilo fan currently and firmly on the Santos must go train.

Every time Danilo passed it back to Costa last night I groaned, but the gameplan seemed to me to be thus - "Azplicueta is old, so he must be slow. Invite the press,...

Disclaimer: Not a Danilo fan currently and firmly on the Santos must go train.

Every time Danilo passed it back to Costa last night I groaned, but the gameplan seemed to me to be thus - "Azplicueta is old, so he must be slow. Invite the press, use Pepe, Danilo and Bernado to work it out of a tight space and ping it to Leao on the left." Had Leao buried a couple of his chances we might have won it so it wasn't ridiculous, but a little reductive, considering the riches at our disposal.

As a midfielder, Danilo is better with the ball at his feet than any of the other CBs we have. He worked well to bring the ball out and start moves last night. Positionally he can get very badly caught out but he has a bit more about him when we are trying to beat a high press, which is why I think he was better for last night's game.

Not a long term solution by any means, but FS will not be doing too much new blooding before he leaves this post, that's for the next guy.

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Remy
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I'll take the result in what was far from a convincing performance. Spain is clearly the more tactically cohesive side and it showed. I wouldn't go as far as to say that we were overrun but you can tell that their players are far better drilled...

I'll take the result in what was far from a convincing performance. Spain is clearly the more tactically cohesive side and it showed. I wouldn't go as far as to say that we were overrun but you can tell that their players are far better drilled in possession.

Diogo Costa looked really shaky despite not having to make too many saves. I haven't watched much of Porto this season but he does not look like the type of keeper who knows how to command his box.

Pepe and Danilo were solid. Guerreiro was decent as well. Cancelo was at fault for the Spain goal but he more than made up for it with an excellent cross for the equalizer.

Moutinho was overrun. He should not be tasked with playing as the sole holding midfielder, especially against a team like Spain. Bernardo and Bruno were quiet. Otavio looked sharp and worked hard, but didn't see enough of the ball in dangerous positions.

Ronaldo barely had a touch on the ball, but I expect him to start vs Switzerland.

Let's hope we see a more cohesive and more proactive approach on Sunday.

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jon/usa
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Diogo Costa is 22 years old, and basing your rating of him on 1 performance after never seeing him at Porto is imprudent.

Costa was the best GK in Portugal this season, wrestling the no. 1 spot from Marchesin who is a very good GK. Costa's ball...

Diogo Costa is 22 years old, and basing your rating of him on 1 performance after never seeing him at Porto is imprudent.

Costa was the best GK in Portugal this season, wrestling the no. 1 spot from Marchesin who is a very good GK. Costa's ball distribution alone makes him an upgrade on Rui P.

As for Moutinho, I suspect Vitinha would have started had he not come down with Covid.

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Chris
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Agree with you here. He did look a little shaky at times but the goal he almost gifted away at the end was not his fault, if you look he had no option other than to parry that cross.

He is young and he should build up confidence over these...

Agree with you here. He did look a little shaky at times but the goal he almost gifted away at the end was not his fault, if you look he had no option other than to parry that cross.

He is young and he should build up confidence over these matches, barring any absolute clangers.

He will help us beat the high press as he can play balls out with his feet, this is arguably a more important role than the pure shot-stopping of Jose Sa in the current state of the game. You can see the extra confidence that the team has in passing back to him compared to Patricio. RP's time as #1 is over IMO.

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Remy
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Bernardo was quiet yet effective in other areas. The guy was in his own box defending, in midfield trying to regain possession and up front trying to set up play. He played the whole pitch, however, he shouldn't have to. Moutinho and Bruno were...

Bernardo was quiet yet effective in other areas. The guy was in his own box defending, in midfield trying to regain possession and up front trying to set up play. He played the whole pitch, however, he shouldn't have to. Moutinho and Bruno were suspect and Bernardo worked to fill in the gaps.

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Jerrold Hewson
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Not a bad result given the performance by the squad. Thought Portugal’s passing was really sloppy. Wouldn’t even say the tactics were off or Spain played that well, Portugal just on their heels most of the match.

Take the result, learn and...

Not a bad result given the performance by the squad. Thought Portugal’s passing was really sloppy. Wouldn’t even say the tactics were off or Spain played that well, Portugal just on their heels most of the match.

Take the result, learn and move on.

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Brian/US/RI
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Are fans really concerned about this result? I must be one of the few fans that could care less about the Nations League. Just a glorified ‘tournament’.

Glad Portugal came back though. Hopefully Horta moves to Benfica this shammer

John
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It's not the Nations League trophy I'm worried about, its how the team looks, the World Cup is in 6 months. How close are we to getting a formula? This is what I'm concerned with.

Jerrold Hewson
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What always saddens me when I watch Portugal over the years is I always wonder, what if we ever developed a specific grass roots pattern of play and passing scheme that every academy could focus on. Every time Portugal gets together, we’re just a...

What always saddens me when I watch Portugal over the years is I always wonder, what if we ever developed a specific grass roots pattern of play and passing scheme that every academy could focus on. Every time Portugal gets together, we’re just a collection of top players from different leagues with different ideas. Our passing is almost always the problem, I mean I think we must have had 100 horrible passes that went to Spain directly or into spaces where our guys weren’t occupying or even thinking about occupying.

Then we miss so many goal scoring opportunities that seem easy and I wonder if it’s because we’re always chasing the game so every shot seems like the last shot we’ll get. It’s like we shoot ourselves in the foot.

When you really think about the big games we’ve played in and lost over the last ten years, our lack of ball possession and giving the opposite team more possession has to be the biggest problem. You just can’t give the ball away so easily WHEN WE STRUGGLE SO GOD DAMN MUCH TO SCORE!!

There’s more I can say but without nitpicking each player, I really just think our ridiculously sloppy passing game is the biggest issue.

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Justin/rochester
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Same. The passing is terrible ( with the exception of a few that actually work). There does not seem to be a cohesive plan, but rather individual talents hoping to form something from nothing. There is a disconnect when it matters most.

What is...

Same. The passing is terrible ( with the exception of a few that actually work). There does not seem to be a cohesive plan, but rather individual talents hoping to form something from nothing. There is a disconnect when it matters most.

What is Portugal's style?

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Jerrold Hewson
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While I agree about the passing points, for me, the bigger issue over the last 2-3 years has been lack of pressure when we lose the ball.

In that respect, we have looked 100 times better since the play-offa against Turkey and N.Macedonia. There...

While I agree about the passing points, for me, the bigger issue over the last 2-3 years has been lack of pressure when we lose the ball.

In that respect, we have looked 100 times better since the play-offa against Turkey and N.Macedonia. There is more urgency and pressing which is great.

Moutinho starting was Santos playing it safe as usual. Hopefully, if we see a combo of Vitinha/Nunes/Renato and Moutinho and Bruno F sit the bench.

Dynamically, one or two of those guys with Bernardo on the pitch would be very dynamic.

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Chris
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Looking back at the game ask myself was it a great game by Portugal? OK. Was it a step forward? Definitely. Spain are probably one of the most in-form national teams at the moment. Luis Enrique as done an amazing job with his team.

For us...

Looking back at the game ask myself was it a great game by Portugal? OK. Was it a step forward? Definitely. Spain are probably one of the most in-form national teams at the moment. Luis Enrique as done an amazing job with his team.

For us positive, not prefect. Something to built on considering the sort of form and lack of identity we find ourselves in. A draw was a bonus but had we lost 1-0 would be thinking the same.

Hopefully we can find the right balance between now and November.

Forca Portugal ??

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Andrew Gomes
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Thank god Morata and other Spain strikers are mostly crap or this would have been an embarassing blow out. Bring on that powerhouse Switzerland next. We're ready!

joe
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Game "a learning curve" or finding the right combination.

Rafael G as always very consistent. 10/10

Rafael L rusty, losing ball and trying to find his legs to dribble and shoot. Need to give him more time to adjust to the NT. If Rafael G and...

Game "a learning curve" or finding the right combination.

Rafael G as always very consistent. 10/10

Rafael L rusty, losing ball and trying to find his legs to dribble and shoot. Need to give him more time to adjust to the NT. If Rafael G and Rafeal L combines well could be treat to watch on the left.

Danilo played a decent game quicker than Ruben D 9/10. Need to see David Carmo.

Pepe good as always.

Joao C responsibility as a deep defender is to defend first and then attack, he compromised by conceding the goal that put the team under pressure, helping score does not make him a good defender.

Need a call RICARDO PEREIRA, he is very good as a deep defender and equally good going forward.

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Neville
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“I tried to take advantage of every minute the mister gave me. It wasn’t the result we wanted, we always want to win, but we played a great team with some of the best players in the world and a draw ended up a positive outcome.”

Ricardo Horta
(Portugal’s goalscoring substitute after 1-1 draw against Spain in Seville in the Nations League) 

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