Portugal, Italy hold onto Nations League top spots as England down Belgium
Portugal and Italy finished first in their UEFA Nations League groups with goalless draws against France and Poland on Sunday in a night of drama, while England faced Belgium to take the initiative in their pool.
There wasn't much to talk about at the Stade de France, as a top-class cast of players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann couldn't bring up a big spectacle in the League A, Group 3 game.
The 1,000 fans who gathered in the cave-like stadium just outside Paris to watch France host the reigning European champions received just four shots on goal as two sturdy defenses canceled each team's attacks.
"We didn't score, but we weren't here to score," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
"France are a great team. They have great players. It is not always possible to create opportunities."
Pepe went home, which he thought was a start in the 74th minute, when he was at the end of Bruno Fernandes' free kick but was offside.
Ronaldo, who was chasing his 102nd international goal, was turned down with a flying save by Hugo Lloris in stoppage time.
Mbappe fluffed France's best when Rui Patricio anticipated his gentle chip in a duel with the Portuguese stopper.
Both teams have seven points, four ahead of Croatia, whose 2-1 home win against Sweden on Sunday was the group's more entertaining game. After a catastrophic late failure by Pontus Jansson, the finalists of the 2018 World Cup were able to soak up the points in one point picking Zagreb.
Defender Jansson dawdled under a high ball into the box with six minutes remaining, leaving Ivan Perisic behind. The Inter Milan winger then fired the ball for Andrej Kramaric at close range.
Sweden run out of points after losing all three games.
- Italy is satisfied with Poland -
Italy extended their unbeaten streak to 18 games and finished first in League A, Group 1 with their stalemate in Gdansk.
Newcomer to Juventus Federico Chiesa missed the chance to win the match for the dominant 'Azzurri' from close range in the 11th minute.
Roberto Mancini's side are one point ahead of the Netherlands, who also lost 0-0 to Bosnia and Herzegovina before their meeting in Bergamo on Wednesday.
"We had several options, especially in the first half when we could have scored at least two goals," said Mancini.
"But we are happy about the result. We didn't score, but it happens."
England coach Gareth Southgate said his side showed what they were made of after beating Belgium 2-1 from behind and topping the League A, Group 2, on Sunday.
The three Lions are seven points clear, one over the top after Marcus Rashford's free kick and the distracted Mason Mount winner saved Romelu Lukaku's early penalty 25 minutes from time.
"We won't have to face a more difficult game defensively," said Southgate. "That's the nice thing about the Nations League, you get games against this level of your opponent.
"It's a great experience for them and to win should give them a sense of what might be possible in the next few years."
After a simple 3-0 win against Iceland, Denmark are three points behind England in third place.
In League B, Erling Braut Haaland showed what the rescheduled Euro 2020 would miss after hitting a hat-trick home to help Norway beat Romania 4-0.
Haaland scored in the 13th, 64th and 74th minutes when Norway were six points ahead of Gruppenführer Austria, the 1-0 winners in Northern Ireland.
Norway were eliminated from the Euro playoffs by Serbia on Thursday.
td / pb
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