Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal Beat Netherlands to Win UEFA Nations League Final

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

Portugal's Goncalo Guedes celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's opening goal during the UEFA Nations League final soccer match between Portugal and Netherlands at the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal, Sunday, June 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Luis Vieira)
Luis Vieira/Associated Press

Portugal defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in the UEFA Nations League final on Sunday.  

In a match of few clear chances, the Portuguese were the more creative in attack, and it was Goncalo Guedes who fired the only goal of the game on the hour mark.

The Dutch failed to deliver a predatory threat in the box and, after a promising start, fell away from the challenge at hand.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a quiet game, but his team played with the consistency needed to win the inaugural prize.


Bernardo Silva Is the Best Midfielder in Europe

Portugal's forward Bernardo Silva (C) vies with Netherlands' midfielder Frenkie De Jong (R) during the UEFA Nations League final football match between Portugal and The Netherlands at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on June 9, 2019. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO

In a match that contained a wealth of current and future stars, one man stood out in a disciplined contest in Porto.

All eyes were on Ronaldo after his hat-trick against Switzerland in the semi-final, and the performances of Dutch pair Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt had pundits deep in analysis.

However, it was Manchester City midfielder Silva who danced through the centre and impressed.

Dominic King of the Daily Mail noted the player's achievement in the Nations League:

Dominic King @DominicKing_DM

Bernardo Silva just named Player of the Tournament and quite right, too. He's been absolutely magnificent all season and the way he created Portugal's winner was him to a tee. Top notch. Frenkie De Jong, meanwhile, was Young Player of the Tournament.

Silva started the match wide of Ronaldo, but his astonishing work rate took him across the pitch.

Bruno Fernandes sat in the pocket and interchanged with his team-mate, allowing Silva to keep Portugal on the front foot.

The Netherlands' passing style was evident in the first half, but their opponents had more intent and experience in the vital moments.

Portugal's ability to interchange positions allowed them to extinguish any potential heat out in the game, and Silva showed why City fans have taken him to their heart.

The 24-year-old is small in stature, but like Luka Modric, his influence is huge in midfield.

Miguel Delaney of the Independent hailed the diminutive superstar:

Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney

Bernardo Silva is now "up there". Must be among top 20 players in world or so. Becoming as important to Portugal as Ronaldo.

The reigning European champions will be looking for a player to lead them when Ronaldo finally calls it a day at the international level, and in Silva, the nation already has a natural-born winner.

Silva gave the assist for Guedes to score his goal, expertly sliding the ball back into his path to rifle home his effort.

It was the perfect example of what Silva has become since joining Pep Guardiola's squad from Monaco in 2017.

Guardiola has helped mould the player into one of the most productive midfielders in Europe, and he could soon be considered as the best in the world.


What's Next

The Netherlands face Germany in 2020 UEFA European Championship qualifying September 6, with Portugal travelling to Serbia in group qualification on September 7.