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Portugal 0-1 France: 5 hits and flops as N'golo Kante's strike puts Les Blues into last four | UEFA Nations League 2020-21

Sachin Bhat
Modified 15 Nov 2020, 10:52 IST
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Hit: Rui Patricio (Portugal)

Rui Patricio made many saves to keep the scoreline at 0-0 in the first half.
Rui Patricio made many saves to keep the scoreline at 0-0 in the first half.

France cut a swathe through Portugal on the night, and while they were guilty of missing some good chances, the man who kept them from running away with the game was Rui Patricio, who pulled off many saves to deny Les Blues on several occasions.

Even as the visitors unleashed wave after wave of attacks, the Wolverhampton Wanderers custodian stood firm in the face of the onslaught. Anthony Martial, in particular, could've scored twice in the first-half had it not been for Patricio's intervention.

He was at fault for the French goal, though, as the shot-stopper spilled an effort from Rabiot straight into the path of an onrushing Kante, but overall he was crucial to keeping the tie in the balance till that moment.

Flop: Anthony Martial (France)

Anthony Martial has scored just once for France in 25 games.
Anthony Martial has scored just once for France in 25 games.

Without taking any credit away from Patricio, Anthony Martial should've done better with his chances in Lisbon, considering his quality and lethal finishing skills he has displayed at Manchester United over the years.


However, Martial seemed to lack confidence on the ball. The winger looked hesitant with his shots, and his indecisiveness in the final third cost him some really good opportunities to end his long international goal drought.

After being completely ignored from the France team in the inaugural edition of the Nations League as well as the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Didier Deschamps opted to give Martial another chance to prove himself after his recent run of good form with the Red Devils.

However, in seven games this calendar year, which includes two friendlies, the 24-year old has struggled badly, failing to score even once. Given his wastefulness against Portugal in Lisbon, Deschamps must have been left wondering if he made the right decision by starting him in place of Olivier Giroud.

Hit: N'Golo Kante (France)

N'Golo Kante was unplayable on the night after a superb performance in Lisbon.

This is really up there for N'Golo Kante as one of the top five performances of his career. Not just because he scored the winning goal that sealed France's passage into the knockout rounds, but also because he ran the show in midfield, taking Portugal to the cleaners with his ball distribution skills as well as his defensive work rate.

Kante was the key to winning back possession in the centre of the park. He made five successful tackles and also created two chances early on for Martial and Griezmann. He completed 88% of his passes too.

The Chelsea star's movements and strength in possession caused a lot of problems for Portugal, who struggled to contain him all night. And when he was presented with a chance to score, Kante took it clinically, pouncing on a loose ball from Patricio to score only his second international goal.

Published 15 Nov 2020, 10:52 IST
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