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France defeated by Denmark; Poland edge past relegated Wales

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Matchday six of the Nations League group stages got underway on Sunday evening as we learned of the first teams to qualify for next summer’s finals.

10 fixtures were played out across the competition as the group stage section comes to a close, with storylines being wrapped up and the script edging closer to completion. June’s mini-tournament began to take shape with two sides confirming their place in the final four.

Without further ado, here’s what went on in the biggest fixtures of the evening.

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Nations League A, Group 1

France ended a difficult Nations League campaign as defending champions on a sour note as they were outclassed by Denmark.

A bright start fizzled out and Kasper Dolberg was alive in the box to pounce on a low ball to the near post from Mikkel Damsgaard to fire Denmark ahead. One quickly turned into two as they piled on the pressure from corners, allowing Andreas Skov Olsen to double the lead on the half-volley.

Changes at half-time failed to give Les Bleus the hold on the game they desired, and despite being able to test Kasper Schmeichel on a few occasions through Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, they never looked capable of mounting a comeback.

Didier Deschamps’ side have now won just one of their last four fixtures and need to find their stride ahead of the World Cup, where they meet Denmark again in the group stages.

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Croatia headed into their game against Austria knowing a win would secure them a spot in next summer’s finals, regardless of other scores. Luka Modric firing them ahead after just six minutes was the perfect start.

That perfect start came crashing down three minutes later, with Christoph Baumgartner responding by heading in a cross from Marcel Sabitzer for 1-1. The equaliser took the sting out of the visitors, who now sat second in the group and out of the finals as things stood, with Denmark ahead against France.

However, they perked up later on and Marko Livaja headed in with little over to 20 minutes to play, putting them back in the driving seat once again. A quickfire third from Dejan Lovren just three minutes after the second took the wind of out Austria, securing the win and the place in the finals for Croatia.

Nations League A, Group 4

Louis van Gaal’s side booked their place in the competition’s final four for the second time, having reached the final in the inaugural tournament in 2019.

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Belgium were on the front foot early on in the game and had chances to take the lead through Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi, but the lack of a clinical edge in front of goal kept proceedings level heading into the break.

A slumbered first half turned into a more energetic second half for the Netherlands, who approached with more aggression and pressed to take the lead. Things became end-to-end and the stalemate could’ve been anyone’s game, but it was Virgil van Dijk’s header in the 73rd minute that was the difference.

That was until the post denied Belgium’s Dodi Lukebakio from a sublime overhead kick effort at the death. The acrobatics meant nothing, though, as the Oranje extended their unbeaten run to 15 games.

Wales suffered relegation to League B thanks to a winning goal from Karol Swiderski, falling to defeat in their final game before the World Cup.

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They had their chances, though, particularly in the first half as they cut through Poland’s spells of possession, but couldn’t make it count in front of goal. Daniel James found himself clear through on goal, but spurned the opportunity instead of testing Wojciech Szczesny or putting it on a plate for Brennan Johnson.

A moment of madness in the first half saw Wayne Hennessey almost let a pass from Joe Rodon slip into the back of the net for an own-goal, but both players’ blushes were spared. It summed up Wales’ night though as Poland looked more comfortable and made it count just before the hour mark, with Swiderski dispatching following a smart assist from Robert Lewandowski.

Gareth Bale’s header rattled the woodwork in injury time which denied Rob Page’s side of a late draw, but all focus now goes to Qatar in November.

Nations League C, Group 1

Turkey’s run of five games unbeaten came to an end as the Faroe Islands got revenge for a 4-0 defeat they suffered in matchday one’s reverse fixture.

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Quickfire goals early on in the second half saw the hosts command a 2-0 lead after an hour, leaving group leaders Turkey shell-shocked and in search of a way back into the game.

They couldn’t find it, though, and had to settle for an 89th minute consolation via Serdar Gurler. Defeat is frustrating, but didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things as they still finished top of the group.



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Cameroon release statement over Andre Onana departure

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Cameroon have confirmed that Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana has been suspended due to a disciplinary issue.

Onana played the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 defeat to Switzerland and had been expected to feature on Monday against Serbia, only for numerous reports to claim that the Inter stopper had been banished from the squad.

Some reports argued that Onana had been dropped due to a difference of opinion when it comes to tactics, with Cameroon manager Rigobert Song said to prefer a ‘more traditional’ style of goalkeeping.

Now, the Cameroon FA have confirmed that Onana has been suspended.

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“The Cameroon Football Federation hereby informs the public that following Mr. Rigobert Song Bahanag’s decision, Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions, the player Andre Onana has been temporarily suspended from the group for disciplinary reasons,” a statement read.

“The Cameroon Football Federation reiterates its full support to the Head Coach and his entire staff as they implement the Federation’s policy aimed at preserving discipline, solidarity, complementarity and cohesion within the national team.

“FECAFOOT further reaffirms its commitment to create a peaceful atmosphere for the team and to provide them with adequate facilities for an outstanding performance.”

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Player ratings as Fernandes double secures qualification

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Portugal booked their spot in the last 16 of the World Cup with a game to spare after a battling 2-0 win over Uruguay.

Uruguay always had the look of a team who were going to relish playing a spoiling game and that is exactly how the first half set off. Portugal dominated the ball but they found it hard to break down the disciplined and physical South Americans.

Half-chances came and went for Portugal, and William Carvalho would have expected to do better with an early long-range effort after fine hold-up play by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo himself got a glimpse of goal when he chested down a cross at the back post, but he was crowded out before he could get a shot away.

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Although Portugal had more of the ball, the best chance of the first half fell to Uruguay. The brilliantly dynamic Rodrigo Bentancur was able to wriggle through the Portuguese defence and found himself one-on-one with Diogo Costa. However, his composure abandoned him at the crucial moment and the Porto stopper was able to scramble it clear.

Portugal started the second half much more brightly, and Joao Felix found himself in a great position in the inside left channel to open the scoring. However, he couldn’t find the target.

That proved to be the warning shot, though, and just a couple minutes later Portugal had the lead. Bruno Fernandes clipped a delicious ball into the box and Ronaldo looked to get the slightest of touches on it. It didn’t look like he did, though, despite his celebrations, and Fernandes’ cross dropped straight in.

Uruguay then had to abandon their spoiling and come out a lot more, although they took a while to really find their stride with it.

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It wasn’t until Maximiliano Gomez and Luis Suarez replaced Darwin Nunez and Edinson Cavani up front that they were able to build pressure. Gomez rattled the post with a fine effort from outside the box, while Suarez could only find the side netting when the ball dropped to him in the six-yard box.

Another substitute, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, was next to miss a great chance, as he failed to beat Costa when through on goal.

It all looked set up for a grandstand finish, but VAR had other ideas. Jose Gimenez was adjudged to have handballed in the area while falling backwards. It was highly contested, but Fernandes didn’t care and he converted from the spot to put Portugal into the knockout stage.

Fernandes even hunted a hat-trick in the dying seconds of the game, but the post denied him.

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For the stats lovers, it was Portugal’s first World Cup win over South American opposition since they beat Brazil at Goodison Park in 1966.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo – Might have scored the winner? / BSR Agency/GettyImages


GK: Diogo Costa – 7/10 –
Came up big with a crucial save in the first half.

RB: Joao Cancelo – 6/10 – Neither marauding nor maddening.

CB: Ruben Dias – 7/10 –
Quality and assured.

CB: Pepe – 6/10 – His nous was important on the night, although rarely felt all that safe.

LB: Nuno Mendes – 5/10 – Didn’t do anything wrong but didn’t influence the game either. Off with an injury in the first half.

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CM: Ruben Neves – 5/10 – Did okay but didn’t seem to fancy the physical stuff as much as others.

CM: William Carvalho – 6/10 – Important physical presence in the midfield.

CM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Scored the opener, although he might have to fight Ronaldo for it. Literally. Nearly had a hat-trick.

RM: Bernardo Silva – 6/10 – Typically neat and tidy, but not much more.

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CF: Cristiano Ronaldo – 7/10 – He might be a fading force, but he was still a thorn in the side of Uruguay’s experienced defence all night.

LF: Joao Felix – 6/10 – Always threatened to do something but never actually did.

SUB: Raphaël Guerreiro (42′ for Mendes) – 6/10 – Slotted in nicely.

SUB: Rafael Leao (69′ for Neves) – 6/10 – Lively.

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Manager: Fernando Santos – 7/10 – Wasn’t pretty but got his team through a tough test.

Darwin Nunez
Not the best game for Darwin Nunez / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Sergio Roche – 6/10 – Well-protected in the main by the Uruguay defence until they left him horribly exposed for the first goal.

CB: Jose Gimenez – 5/10 – Out of step with his central defensive partners too often but very unfortunate to give away a penalty.

CB Diego Godin – 6/10 – A fading force. His brain is still sneaky but the body isn’t quite as willing.

CB: Sebastian Coates – 6/10 – Dependable but not dominant.

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RM: Mathias Olivera – 6/10 – Had the energy and the will but not the quality.

CM: Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Some way short of his best.

CM: Rodrigo Bentancur – 7/10 – Uruguay’s best player on the night for sure.

CM: Matias Vecino – 5/10 – Never stamped his authority on the game.

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LM: Guillermo Varela – 5/10 – Didn’t really impress at all.

CF: Darwin Nunez – 5/10 – Will be disappointed with his performance.

CF: Edinson Cavani – 5/10 – Not at his best but poorly supported.

SUB: Giorgian De Arrascaeta (62′ for Vecino) – 6/10 – Made a difference but missed his big chance in front of goal.

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SUB: Facundo Pellistri (62′ for Godin) – 6/10 – Injected some pace and purpose into the Uruguay attack, although little product.

SUB: Maximiliano Gomez (72′ for Nunez) – 6/10 – Rattled the woodwork and unlucky not to score.

SUB: Luis Suarez (72′ for Cavani) – 6/10 – Missed a great chance from inside the six-yard box.

SUB: Matias Vina (86′ for Oliviera) – N/A

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Manager: Diego Alonso – 6/10 – Bit unlucky as his subs should have got him something.

Player of the match – Bruno Fernandes

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Andrea Agnelli & Pavel Nedved among Juventus directors to offer shock resignation

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Juventus have been rocked by the stunning resignations of their entire board, including president Andrea Agnelli and vice-president Pavel Nedved.

Numerous reports in Italy claim that the entire Juventus board of directors offered their shock resignations during a meeting on Monday evening.

CEO Maurizio Arrivabene is expected to remain at the club and assume control of Juventus while the new boardroom structure is finalised over the coming months.

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Agnelli became Juventus chairman in 2010 and is also vice-chairman of the European Super League, having represented one of the three remaining supporters of the competition alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona.

His attachment to the Super League has attracted significant criticism, as has his management of Juventus, who have spent heavily in recent years but have fallen behind their rivals, both in Serie A and in Europe.

Juventus finished fourth in Serie A last season and entered the World Cup break in third, ten points behind leaders Napoli.



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