Nations League roundup: Kanté's strike for France knocks out holders Portugal

France handed the defending Nations League champions, Portugal, a rare defeat, winning 1-0 in Lisbon with N’Golo Kanté’s second-half strike to reach the competition’s final four at the expense of the holders.

Kanté scored only his second France goal in the 54th minute to leave them top of League A Group 3 with 13 points from five games, three ahead of Portugal and with the better head-to-head record to give themselves an unassailable lead.

France should have been ahead by half-time but Anthony Martial missed three chances, two saved by Rui Patricio and one hitting the crossbar. José Fonte hit a post as Portugal pressed for an equaliser in the second half.

The Nations League finals will take place in October next year in a single venue yet to be decided. “Given the quality of the opposition, it’s of course one of our best performances of recent times,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.

The Chelsea striker Timo Werner scored each side of the break to steer Germany from behind to a 3-1 win over Ukraine in their Nations League match as they topped the group with a game left to play.

Werner scored twice after Leroy Sané had cancelled out a surprise 12th minute lead for the visitors, who had four players, including West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko, ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19 on the eve of the game.

The Germans, in the midst of an overhaul following their 2018 World Cup first round exit, are now top of Group A4 on nine points, one ahead of Spain, whom they visit on Tuesday. The top team qualify for the final stage of the competition.

“I think we did it well,” Sané said. “They went in front and we could have avoided it because we started well. But the way we came back was strong.”

Spain forward Gerard Moreno came off the bench to snatch a 1-1 draw away to Switzerland after Sergio Ramos had missed two penalties.

Ramos, who also became the most capped European player of all time, had scored all of his previous 25 penalties but was thwarted when Yann Sommer guessed the right way and repelled his spot-kick in the 58th minute to preserve his side’s lead.

Switzerland had taken the lead in the 23rd minute through Remo Frueler and could have doubled their advantage in the second half but Ramos came to his side’s rescue with a goalline clearance.

Spain then earned a second penalty in the 79th which led to the Swiss defender Nico Elvedi being sent off. However, Ramos was again outwitted by Sommer, who could not be fooled by the defender’s Panenka penalty and caught the ball.

Gerard Moreno fires in a late equaliser for Spain in Switzerland.
Gerard Moreno fires in a late equaliser for Spain in Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

The substitute Moreno saved Ramos’s blushes in the 89th minute, finally beating Sommer by lashing home a cross from Sergio Reguilón.

“Football is like this, it’s a marvellous sport but sometimes it’s very unfair,” said Spain coach Luis Enrique.

Goals from Dejan Kulusevski and Marcus Danielsson ended Sweden’s four-game losing streak in the Nations League as they beat Croatia 2-1 in Stockholm.

Needing a win to avoid relegation from Group A3, the victory keeps Sweden’s survival hopes alive as they head into their final group game against France in Paris on Wednesday, despite still being bottom of the group.

Sweden boss Janne Andersson had to watch the game from home following a positive test for Covid-19 and 20-year-old forward Kulusevksi was chosen to start up front with Marcus Berg.

The decision paid off quickly as the Juventus player gave his side the lead when he held off Mateo Kovacic to side-foot home his first goal for his country in the 36th minute.

Danielsson made it two in first-half stoppage time, swooping in at the near post to send Sebastian Larsson’s corner flying into the net with a glancing header.

They continued to dominate in the second half but Croatia muscled their way back into the game and pulled a goal back when an Ivan Perisic header deflected off Danielsson and into the net.

The win leaves Sweden bottom of the group on three points, with the Croatians third on goal difference.