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France 0-0 Portugal: 5 talking points as European heavyweights share the spoils in underwhelming stalemate | UEFA Nations League 2020-21

It was a stalemate in Paris as France and Portugal played out a goalless draw
It was a stalemate in Paris as France and Portugal played out a goalless draw
Sachin Bhat
ANALYST
Modified 12 Oct 2020, 07:50 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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France were held to a 0-0 home draw to Portugal in a UEFA Nations League fixture that largely failed to live up to its expectations.

Pepe appeared to have snatched a late winner for the visitors with a diving header, only to be flagged for offside as the spoils were shared between the reigning Euro Cup and FIFA World Cup winners.

The result means Portugal lead Group A3 on goal difference, although the European powerhouses will clash once again next month in what's likely to be the decider.

For now, here are the major talking points from the clash of the heavyweights at the Stade de France:

#1 Crucial interceptions keep the tie even

Cristiano Ronaldo was twice denied by France
Cristiano Ronaldo was twice denied by France

Given the staggering amount of attacking power in both camps, fans were expecting plenty of goal-mouth action. However, rather curiously, it was the defence that came out on top. 

France and Portugal both came really close to breaking the deadlock, only to be denied by a last-minute interception from someone at the back.

Cristiano Ronaldo's first real attempt was smothered by Lucas Hernandez, who timed his jump perfectly to deny the Juventus talisman a clear effort at goal before Hugo Lloris refused him a late winner by punching his effort out of play.

On both occasions, the 35-year-old, who had a clear sight of goal, would've buried it had it not been for some defensive heroics.

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Kylian Mbappe was also close to finding the back of the net on Sunday. He danced through the Portuguese defence inside the area to arrow a shot at the back post. However, Rui Patricio got a hand to it, denying what was a clear opportunity.

#2 Paul Pogba's anonymous return to France's starting line-up

Paul Pogba looked out of sorts on his return to the France starting line-up
Paul Pogba looked out of sorts on his return to the France starting line-up

Paul Pogba missed both the opening games of the UEFA Nations League for France last month after testing positive for COVID-19 but returned to the squad for this international break's triple-header.

After coming off the bench in the friendly win over Ukraine, he marked his return to the starting XI for the first time since June last year (he missed the remainder of 2019 due to ankle injury) and offered no great shakes.

Pogba surrendered possession frequently while also lacking ideas going forward. Even though he looked unstoppable on the break, the Manchester United star didn't know where to pass after surging into the Portuguese half. This fizzled out a couple of promising counters.

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His evening is perfectly summed up in this tweet:

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Published 12 Oct 2020, 07:50 IST
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