UEFA Nations League: Croatia Falls to Portugal at Poljud (2:3)

By 17 November 2020
UEFA Nations League: Croatia Falls to Portugal at Poljud (2:3)
Slobodan Kadic

November 17, 2020 - Croatia and Portugal met for their final Nations League match this season at Poljud Stadium in Split on Tuesday evening. Croatia falls to Portugal 2:3. 

Croatia was fighting for survival in the Nations League elite group against the 2016 European champion and 2019 Nations League winner Portugal. 

A draw was enough for Croatia to stay among the elite if Sweden did not win against France at the same time.

Coach Zlatko Dalic could not count on almost eight first-team players for the Portugal match due to injuries and coronavirus. The starting 11 included Dominik Livaković; Josip Juranović, Dejan Lovren, Mile Škorić, Domagoj Bradarić - Luka Modrić, Marko Rog, Mateo Kovačić - Nikola Vlašić, Mario Pašalić, and Ivan Perišić.

Portugal, on the other hand, started with their strongest 11 -  Nelson Semedo, Ruben Dias, Ruben Semedo, Mario Rui - Danilo, Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes - Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Diogo Jota.

The match started promptly at 8:45 and was even for the first 10 minutes. Croatia was quick with one-twos and neutralized Ronaldo up top. Lovren tightly marked the Juventus attacker. 

Portugal received their first corner in the 11th minute which was played short and resulted in another corner from the other side. Croatia's defense was solid in the aggressive attacks that followed, but Portugal had their third corner by the 14th minute. 

Croatia had a stellar chance in the 21st minute off a Vlasic cross, but Pasalic couldn't get his header past the Portugal keeper. 

A Portugal free-kick moments later gave the away side yet another corner, which was punched out by Livakovic.


Slobodan Kadic

Even with the consistent Portugal attacks, this Croatia side was looking far better than the match against Sweden. Croatia received their first corner in the 26th minute. 

And then it happened. Croatia endured and a quick counter found the boot of Mateo Kovacic who scored for 1:0 in the 29th!

Croatia received their second corner after a Modric free-kick in the 31st, and another in the 32nd. They certainly picked up their momentum with quick plays in the attack. Ronaldo was neutralized by the Croatia defense the entire first half.

Another brilliant chance for Croatia was just short of 2:0 as Juranovic hit wide in the 36th. Livakovic kept it 1:0 after a dangerous Portugal free-kick moments later.


Slobodan Kadic

Portugal was persistent in the final minutes of the first half and was eager to equalize, but thanks to Croatia's solid backline, held by Lovren, Skoric, and Livakovic, the match ended 1:0 for Croatia at the half.

The second half started with no changes for Croatia. 


Slobodan Kadic

Portugal's best chance of the game so far came from a free kick in the 47th minute, which Dias headed over the goal.

Rog received a double-yellow in the 51st minute, forcing Croatia to play with a man down for the remainder of the half. Dias finally got his chance moments later. A Ronaldo free-kick was hit out by Livakovic, which found Dias for the equalizer. It was 1:1 in the 52nd.


Slobodan Kadic

Unfortunately, Joao Felix gave Portugal the 1:2 lead in the 60th.

Dalic made his first substitution in the 63rd minute - Brekalo came in for Pasalic. Not even one minute later, Kovacic scored again for 2:2!

Brilliant footwork between Vlasic, Bradaric, Kovacic, and Brekalo almost made it 3:2 for Croatia, and a solid Skoric and Livakovic made sure Portugal didn't score. 


Slobodan Kadic

Dalic made his second substitution of the match in the 83rd minute - Mislav Orsic came in for Vlasic.

A goalkeeper gaffe saw Dias score for the Portugal lead in the 90th minute. Dalic substituted Basic for Kovacic seconds later. The match ended 2:3 for Portugal. 

With this result, Croatia remains in 3rd place and thus maintains their spot in the Nations League elite group. 

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