Portugal manager Fernando Santos claimed on Tuesday that his team’s elimination from UEFA Nations League A was unfair.
At the Municipal Stadium in Braga, visitors Spain upset Portugal 1-0 with Alvaro Morata’s 88th-minute strike to top Group 2 with 11 points. Portugal finished second with 10 points.
“It is true that in the first half Spain had more possession without creating major problems. We lacked some patience, we played with a lot of long passes, but at passing the ball the team did well and got there,” the coach explained.
According to Santos, Portugal created goal situations, while Spain did nothing but try to stay more in possession.
“We tried to correct that at half-time, and we were pushing hard at the restart. We had a great opportunity, but we didn’t take it, and then Spain started to have more ball, and we had more difficulty, lowering the lines without being able to connect the game,” he said.
The coach regretted that he “wanted to be in the finals” of the UEFA Nations League and that he “worked for it with the conviction that he was going to make it.”
Portugal midfielder Ruben Neves said that he had expected a difficult match against a qualified opponent, but that they needed to win because they were at home.
“In the first 15 minutes we gave Spain too much space to have the ball, although they didn’t create great scoring opportunities,” he argued.
“Then we adjusted our pressure, we controlled the game well and we had some opportunities in the first half. In the second we started well, we had more ball, we created clear goalscoring opportunities again, but unfortunately, we couldn’t score,” he lamented.
According to him, it was a “distraction move” that allowed a cross to come out into the area, and that ended up resulting in a goal.
“It had happened to us once and we made the same mistake again. Now there is no room to think more about this competition,” he concluded. ■