Portugal and Italy held first place in their UEFA Nations League groups on Sunday with goalless draws against France and Poland on a night of little drama, while England beat Belgium to take the lead in their group.
There wasn’t much to talk about at the Stade de France as a star-studded lineup of players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann, failed to put on a great show in the League A, Group 3 match.
The 1,000 fans gathered in the cavernous stadium on the outskirts of Paris to watch France host the reigning European champions were treated with just four shots on goal as two tough defenders nullified each team’s attacks.
“We didn’t score a goal, but we weren’t here to score goals,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.
“France is a great team. They have great players. It is not always possible to create opportunities. “
Pepe headed in what he thought was the opener in the 74th minute when he reached the end of a Bruno Fernandes free kick, but was warned offside.
Ronaldo, who was chasing his 102nd international goal, was parried by a flying save from Hugo Lloris in overtime.
Mbappé beat the best of France when Rui Patricio anticipated his soft chip in the one on one with the Portuguese stopper.
Both teams have seven points, four ahead of Croatia, whose 2-1 home win over Sweden the previous Sunday was the most entertaining match of the group, with a calamitous late lap from Pontus Jansson allowing the Cup finalists World 2018 snatch the points in a drenching Zagreb.
Defender Jansson lingered under a high ball in the penalty area with six minutes to go and allowed Ivan Perisic to get in the way from behind. The Inter Milan winger then squared the ball for Andrej Kramaric to touch up close.
Sweden are pointless after losing all three of their matches.
– Italy is satisfied with the point of Poland –
Italy extended their unbeaten streak to 18 matches and remained in first place in League A, Group 1 with their stalemate in Gdansk.
Juventus’ new signing Federico Chiesa lost a chance to win the match for the dominant ‘Azzurri’ from close range in the 11th minute.
Roberto Mancini’s team is one point ahead of the Netherlands, who also drew 0-0 with Bosnia and Herzegovina, before their meeting in Bergamo on Wednesday.
“We had several chances, especially in the first half when we could have scored at least two goals,” Mancini said.
“Beyond the result, however, we are happy. We don’t score, but it happens. “
England manager Gareth Southgate said his team showed what they were made of after coming back to beat Belgium 2-1 to top League A, Group 2 on Sunday.
The Three Lions are seven points ahead, one ahead of the world’s top-ranked team after a penalty shot from Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount’s deflected winner 25 minutes from time canceled Romelu Lukaku’s early penalty.
“We’re not going to face a tougher game on defense,” Southgate said. “That’s the beauty of the Nations League, you get matches against this level of opponent.
“It’s a great experience for them and winning it should give them an idea of what might be possible in the years to come.”
Denmark is three points behind England in third place after their simple 3-0 win over Iceland.
In League B, Erling Braut Haaland showed what would be missing in the rescheduled Euro 2020 after he scored a hat-trick to help Norway beat Romania 4-0.
Haaland scored in the 13th, 64th and 74th minutes as Norway drew six points with group leaders Austria, who won 1-0 in Northern Ireland.
Norway was eliminated from the Eurocup playoffs by Serbia on Thursday.