Portugal beat Czech Republic 2-0 in the UEFA Nations League thanks to two goals in the space of five first half minutes.

Bernardo Silva was the architect on both occasions, assisting João Cancelo in the 33rd minute and Gonçalo Guedes five minutes later.

The second half at Estádio José Alvalade was a tedious affair, the Seleção seeing the job through against a Czech Republic side that managed just one shot on target in Lisbon.

Chances at both ends

Portugal controlled the ball in the opening exchanges, Rúben Neves with the first effort of the match in the 10th minute when he dragged his shot wide.

João Cancelo and Bernardo Silva were combining well on the right wing but the Seleção were struggling to find space between Czech Republic’s deep block, the visitors frequently defending with 10 players in their 18-yard box.

William Carvalho's shot was blocked before the Czech’s fashioned their first chance in the 17th minute, Michal Sadílek volleying over the bar.

Cristiano Ronaldo then went on a long run into the box before firing a wayward attempt high and wide.

Portugal’s defence was sliced open in the 30th minute, Jan Kuchta bursting into the box and forcing a smart save from Diogo Costa.

Portugal turn on the style

It was a false dawn for the visitors as space opened up and Portugal turned the screw.

The breakthrough came in the 33rd minute thanks to another brilliant piece of combination play between João Cancelo and Bernardo Silva. A neat 1-2 from the Manchester City teammates saw Cancelo burst into the box and smash the ball past Jindřich Staněk from a tight angle.

Five minutes later Portugal extended their lead. Bernardo Silva was the orchestrator once again, releasing Gonçalo Guedes who picked his spot, placing the ball across Staněk and into the bottom corner.

Second half to forget

Czech Republic manager Jaroslav Šilhavý made a triple switch at the break with Milan Havel, Ondrej Lingr and Jan Kuchta making way for Václav Jemelka, Jakub Pesek and Václav Jurecka.

Portugal cleared a dangerous ball in their box before gifting the visitors a golden opportunity in the 60th minute. Bernardo Silva’s poor pass was pounced on by Adam Hložek, the young striker racing clear and releasing Jurečka who fired wide.

The Seleção started to exert some pressure with Diogo Jota forcing a save from Staněk. Jota then found Guedes in a dangerous position in front of goal, Sadílek getting back to make a crucial challenge before Guedes  could pull the trigger.

Santos made two substitutions in the 68th minute with William Carvalho and Bernardo Silva making way for Vitinha and Bruno Fernandes.

Ronaldo saw his shot saved but chances were few and far between in Lisbon, Jota making way for Rafael Leão in the 79th minute.

Portugal’s concentration levels deterioratied rapidly in the final five minutes. Rúben Neves lost possession in a dangerous position, Adam Vlkanova pouncing before producing a poor effort with Costa to beat.

João Moutinho and João Palhinha replaced Rúben Neves and Gonçalo Guedes in the closing stages with the focus immediately shifting to Switzerland.

Analysis

Fernando Santos, in his 100th match in charge of the Seleção, made four changes to the side that swept past Switzerland on Sunday with Diogo Costa, Raphaël Guerreiro, Bernardo Silva and Gonçalo Guedes replacing Rui Patrício, Nuno Mendes, Bruno Fernandes and Otávio.

The Portuguese manager will continue to alter his starting side with four games being played in 11 days. 

Bernardo Silva and Guedes were strong and justified their inclusions with William Carvalho unable to replicate his sensational performance against Switzerland.

Club connections in international football are extremely important and we have seen two excellent examples in back to back games in Lisbon. João Cancelo and Bernardo Silva combined with devastating effect in the fourth goal against Switzerland, the Manchester City duo bamboozling three defenders as Cancelo opened the scoring against the Czech Republic.

The chances Portugal gifted their opponents in the second half wasn't ideal and took some of the gloss off the performance, but mistakes are to be expected after a long and grueling season. Portugal face one more challenge on Sunday, taking on Switzerland in Geneva before embarking on a well deserved break.

By Matthew Marshall

Line Ups

Portugal (4-3-3): Diogo Costa - João Cancelo, Pepe, Danilo Pereira, Raphaël Guerreiro - Bernardo Silva (Vitinha 68’), Rúben Neves (João Moutinho 88’), William Carvalho (Bruno Fernandes 68’) - Gonçalo Guedes (João Palhinha 88’), Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota (Rafael Leão 79’)

Unused substitutes: Rui Patrício, Rui Silva, David Carmo, Diogo Dalot, Nuno Mendes, Otávio, André Silva        

Head Coach: Fernando Santos

Czech Republic (5-4-1): J. Staněk - V. Coufal, D. Zima, J. Brabec, A. Matějů (A. Král 80’), M. Havel (V. Jemelka 46’) - O. Lingr J. Pešek (46’), T. Souček, M. Sadílek, A. Hložek (A. Vlkanova 73’) - J. Kuchta (V. Jurečka 46’)

Unused substitutes: J. Zelený, L. Kalvach, T. Vaclík, V. Černý, S. Tecl, A. Mandous, O. Kúdela

Head Coach: Jaroslav Šilhavý 

Goals

[1-0] – João Cancelo 33'

[2-0] – Gonçalo Guedes 38’

Comments (19)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I am feeling much more confident with this team than in the qualifying games. With that being said, we have the confidence to take the foot off the gas in the end, but, had that been a better, (maybe we wouldn't have), they would have buried...

I am feeling much more confident with this team than in the qualifying games. With that being said, we have the confidence to take the foot off the gas in the end, but, had that been a better, (maybe we wouldn't have), they would have buried their chances instead of shooting wide.

Nice to see Ronaldo running around a lot more now.

I look forward to the changes that Santos will make on the return game against the Swiss. I enjoy younger players being thrown in the mix.

There's no reason why we shouldn't top this group come Septembers end. I betcha if we play attacking football we could beat Spain.

November is coming, work the kinks out in this tourney!

The biggest change I see, is more passion in play, more intensity. And look, we are getting actual results.

Forca!

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Jerrold Hewson
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I was hoping to see David Carmo make his debut today, but his time will come.

I can also see why Santos is persisting with Pepe and Danilo in the Nations League, as he probably thinks that Pepe, Danilo and Ruben Dias will get the job done in...

I was hoping to see David Carmo make his debut today, but his time will come.

I can also see why Santos is persisting with Pepe and Danilo in the Nations League, as he probably thinks that Pepe, Danilo and Ruben Dias will get the job done in Qatar.

Therefore, giving Pepe and Danilo as much game time together makes sense, as does playing Danilo in central defence.

It wasn't a great performance tonight, but with a lot of changes and fatigue, it's understandable especially after two late goals in the first half.

Czech Republic were average, probably due to some of reasons stated above.

I think it's really important that Portugal play well in Geneva and end this cycle on a high.

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Matthew Marshall
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Better performance last night, lions share of the possession but Santos still needs to go a more forward thinking manager is needed for this team. Second half performance was not there but it is understandable as it has been a long old season....

Better performance last night, lions share of the possession but Santos still needs to go a more forward thinking manager is needed for this team. Second half performance was not there but it is understandable as it has been a long old season. Only gripe is with Bernardo and Cancelo, the over-elaboration on the ball, the needless tricks when it should be kept simple with the pass first time pass, more goals will come that way. Also, I thought at times, there was a little bit of micky taking of the opposition by Bernardo and Cancelo with tricks, it was a little unnecessary and disrespectful to the opposition your playing against.

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Ando
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We looked really good when we pushed for a goal late in the second half, but apart from that we never really got out of second gear.

Cancelo, Bernardo, and Neves were superb.

If there's only one of Bernardo or Bruno on the field, Bernardo has...

We looked really good when we pushed for a goal late in the second half, but apart from that we never really got out of second gear.

Cancelo, Bernardo, and Neves were superb.

If there's only one of Bernardo or Bruno on the field, Bernardo has to start each and every time. He's the superior footballer. Simple as that. If Bruno was getting a bunch of goals and assists like he does for United, he would have an argument, but more often than not he's ineffective and Bernardo almost always excels when operating centrally as the #10.

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jon/usa
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I think that when the big games come around, Santos has repeatedly shown that Bruno and Bernardo will both be in the starting side.

I also think that Bruno instigated the opening three goals against Switzerland, but because he wasn't credited...

I think that when the big games come around, Santos has repeatedly shown that Bruno and Bernardo will both be in the starting side.

I also think that Bruno instigated the opening three goals against Switzerland, but because he wasn't credited with any assists, many people would simply say he didn't do much, because it suits a particular narrative.

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Matthew Marshall
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@jon I couldn’t agree more Bernardo is IMO is ? the better option over Bruno. He’s more skilled, keeps the ball much better and his work rate is absolutely insane. That’s not a knock against Bruno, Bernardo is just one of the best players in the...

@jon I couldn’t agree more Bernardo is IMO is ? the better option over Bruno. He’s more skilled, keeps the ball much better and his work rate is absolutely insane. That’s not a knock against Bruno, Bernardo is just one of the best players in the world.

The Swiss game plus the 1st half of this game was some of the best football I’ve seen Portugal play. I think this was the type of football that we’ve been desperately hoping for this generation of players to play.

For me I think Cancelo, Pepe, Dias, Neves, Bernardo, CR7 are the core after that there are a few debates
Mendes vs Guerriero ,
Guedes vs Otavio vs Felix,
Leao vs Jota,
William vs Sanches.

Forca

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Nelson
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Seeing these 2 games against Czech and the Swiss makes me think we lost 2 points against Spain. Portugal gave them too much respect. The Czech tore through Spains defense with a much weaker offense than Portugal. We need to dominate them in the...

Seeing these 2 games against Czech and the Swiss makes me think we lost 2 points against Spain. Portugal gave them too much respect. The Czech tore through Spains defense with a much weaker offense than Portugal. We need to dominate them in the last game in Portugal. I hope Santos doesn't set us up for the tie, because we will lose.

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Mike
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I agree. If it hadn't been for that unnecessary give away between Cancelo and Bruno, I don't think they would have scored. Also, Moutinho was starting in the midfield with Bruno, and they were poor. The point is that personnel does make a difference.

Paulo
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Confidence from the center backs is the key to success victories.

DANILO PEREIRA & PEPE ARE A PERFECT COMBINATION FROM THE BACK, with support from Joao Concelo & Rafael G.

Ruben Neves gets better and better every match so does the team.

Errors...

Confidence from the center backs is the key to success victories.

DANILO PEREIRA & PEPE ARE A PERFECT COMBINATION FROM THE BACK, with support from Joao Concelo & Rafael G.

Ruben Neves gets better and better every match so does the team.

Errors can be the tired legs playing games at short intervals.

Passing was good so was the recovery of the ball.

The next match to watch is David Carmo and Duarte.

Well done

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Neville
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We always had some trouble playing against teams who have 3 man at the back system. I saw Czech playing the same system and we played really well. In these types of games individual quality and imagination are very important which was exactly...

We always had some trouble playing against teams who have 3 man at the back system. I saw Czech playing the same system and we played really well. In these types of games individual quality and imagination are very important which was exactly brought in by Bernardo and Cancelo in the game. Czech Republic looked a bit agitated after a series of good attacking play from Portugal. At times they would even forget to clear the ball! Portugal aren't the same after the Serbia defeat. We are playing as a one unit. I could see a lot of enthusiasm and intent in the squad especially in the dugout when the match is going on. Good to see our players having fun out there both on and off the pitch.

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Nishanth Dsouza
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How about Pepe sprinting back to cover on that 3 on 2 in the 60th minute? That guy is all heart. I love watching Cancelo play, amazing touch and skills. I could not believe it when Juve swapped him for Danilo. It's worked out great for Cancelo...

How about Pepe sprinting back to cover on that 3 on 2 in the 60th minute? That guy is all heart. I love watching Cancelo play, amazing touch and skills. I could not believe it when Juve swapped him for Danilo. It's worked out great for Cancelo anyway. Guedes is wild but tenacious and comes up with goals here and there. Sometimes Bruno reminds me of Nani, lots of skill and ability but tends to overplay at times.

I originally thought that 4 matches in 11 days was ridiculous but it's forced managers to play most of the roster. It's been good to see more players get a run out to see what they can do. I would like to see Duarte or Carmo get a start on Sunday and see how they fit with the NT. Perhaps Luiz as well. It's been a fun week. Força!

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Daniel
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Pepe going back was impressive. He passed Rafa and William. Once he caught the unmarked player, he stayed with him, instead of overrunning him in case of a cut back pass. Desire, Athleticism and Defensive Intelligence in full display during that...

Pepe going back was impressive. He passed Rafa and William. Once he caught the unmarked player, he stayed with him, instead of overrunning him in case of a cut back pass. Desire, Athleticism and Defensive Intelligence in full display during that run back.

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Paulo
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To me it looks obvious we look better in midfield when Bernardo and Bruno don't play together. They shouldn't play in the same 11 and Bernardo has been the better player both at club and international level so far. Why do I have the sinking...

To me it looks obvious we look better in midfield when Bernardo and Bruno don't play together. They shouldn't play in the same 11 and Bernardo has been the better player both at club and international level so far. Why do I have the sinking feeling our starting midfield for the Ghana game will be William - Bruno Fernandes - Moutinho with Bernardo on the wing.

Hardest games to yet come in my opinion, let's see how we do Sunday. Seems like the ship has steadied since the near catastrophic world cup qualifiers so let's hope this is a good sign ahead of the world cup.

Early days, but if the current group leaders are the ones that make the semi finals of the Nations League I think it realistic to think about bringing the trophy home again.

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Santos
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We saw that club teamates chemistry on display and as long as Cancelo plays, Bernardo Silva starts for sure. I was hoping at the beginning of the season that CR at Manu would forge a devastating 9, 11 combination, which we saw some sparks at...

We saw that club teamates chemistry on display and as long as Cancelo plays, Bernardo Silva starts for sure. I was hoping at the beginning of the season that CR at Manu would forge a devastating 9, 11 combination, which we saw some sparks at ManU, but this can only happen if Fernandes gets a front 3 roaming role, not as one of the 3 MF. We've seen 1 maybe 2 games where the NT tried this. Not having a nucleus of starters who play at club level, Ala Spain , when they won; starters basically from 2 teams....there is a greater chance that you bring a collection of stars and they just don't click....the NT are not there yet, but winning and scoring certainly helps building this.

Fwiw tidbit, Neves to ManU is unlikely but this would be good for the NT in the above regard.

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Ograndetrinco
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Time for Neves to go to a bigger club than Wolves for sure. Think we look better with him in midfield but his defensive play concerns me a little.

Santos
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Second half was forgettable save for a few attempts to pressure the defense and get a 3rd late on.

I didn't like the lineup.

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