Swiss and English win Nations League thrillers to reach finals; Portugal to host

November 19 – England, Switzerland and Portugal emerged as the big winners at the weekend as the new Nations League competition, initially derided by many as being unwieldy and over-complicated, took centre stage.

Haris Seferovic scored a hat-trick as Switzerland completed a remarkable  comeback after being two goals down to thrash the number one-ranked team in the world, Belgium, 5-2 and reach the Nations League finals.

Portugal has been selected to host those inaugural finals after also qualifying for next June’s mini-tournament. They got the nod by virtue of finishing top of their group above Italy and Poland, who had also expressed an interest in hosting.

Porto’s Estadio do Dragao and the Estadio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes are the proposed venues.  Porto’s stadium would serve as the main venue. Hosts are required to submit two stadiums with a net seating capacity of at least 30,000 in a radius of 150km. Details are set to be confirmed by UEFA at its executive committee meeting on December 3, the same day as the draw.

Portugal, who closed off their group with a 0-0 draw against Italy in Milan, will be joined by the three other Group A winners, two of whom are Switzerland and England, along with France or the Netherlands.

England gained revenge for their World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia with thrilling 2-1 win at Wembley. Gareth Southgate’s team, who also had to face Spain in the toughest of groups, were heading for relegation to Group B before two late goals wiped out Croatia’s undeserved lead and sent England into the finals amid nationwide jubilation .

Match-winner and captain Harry Kane said his decisive goal ranked among his career highlights. “It’s one of England’s best years,” said Kane. “We could win a trophy. We’ve had a fantastic year, but not rested on our laurels.”

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford told the BBC: “The atmosphere is probably the best we’ve had at Wembley. “This Nations League makes you want to beat the best. We’ve beaten two of the top 10 sides in the world. Now we have another semi-final – it’ll be a good summer.”

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