Portugal coach Fernando Santos cut a dejected figure in the post-match press conference after a late Álvaro Morata goal for Spain knocked the Seleção out of the Nations League in Braga tonight.
Midfielder Rúben Neves immediately turned his thoughts to Qatar, saying: “there’s no time to think about this competition any more. We have to focus on the World Cup.”
PortuGOAL rounds up the Portugal 0-1 Spain match reaction.
Fernando Santos, Portugal coach:
“The team was well organised in the first half. We created opportunities while Spain didn’t create any. In the first 15 minutes of the second half we pushed higher up the pitch, pressured further up and we created two or three chances.
“From then on we didn’t have the ball, the team dropped its lines, we stopped pressing and we had difficulties. Jota asked to be substituted, but I wasn’t planning to make that substitution. I brought on Vitinha and João Mário to have more possession of the ball and we didn’t manage to and began dropping back. Even so, we had two big chances to score but we didn’t take them. Ronaldo had some chances that he usually scores from.
“We have to stick to our pattern of play regardless of the opponents. We did this for a long time. We circulated he ball, we pressed and we created opportunities. In the second half we started by pushing higher up the pitch but then we lost possession of the ball, Spain started pushing us back and without having any real chances, they scored.
“This is the second time we’ve conceded a goal right at the end [after the Serbia defeat]. If we have to defend we should defend with everything. The players and I are devastated at the end of this game.
“Did I learn from the Serbia game? You can’t compare this game to the Serbia game. Against Serbia we scored but then we did not create any more chances. We’ve changed a lot since then, the way we play, the way we think about the game. Of course there are always things to improve.
“This elimination doesn’t undermine me at all. I have a contract until 2024.”
Rúben Neves, Portugal midfielder:
“We knew Spain would have a lot of the ball, but in the first 15 minutes we didn’t press them well. Then we adjusted our game, we controlled the match, we had immense goal-scoring chances, but in the final minutes, with a moment of distraction, some passiveness from our team, we conceded a goal.
“It’s an objective we have failed. We had a fantastic attitude, we fought until the end and now we have to react. There is no time to think about this competition any more. We have to focus on the World Cup.”
Rúben Dias, Portugal defender:
“Spain always had most of the possession but we were concentrated in our duels and in our defensive organisation. And when we had the chance we tried to use our best weapons. That’s football. They scored near the end. Now it’s time to look ahead, that’s the only thing we have to do.”
“At the end of the day we had the better chances. I can’t remember any clear chance for Spain apart from the goal. They scored a goal. There isn’t much more to say. We have to look ahead.”
By Tom Kundert