Nations League hots up with Europe’s giants battling for bragging rights

October 12 – Heavyweights Portugal and France lost their perfect records in this season’s Nations League after playing out an underwhelming  0-0 draw against each other on Sunday, while Belgium saw its 13-match unbeaten run ended by a 2-1 defeat against England. 

Two of the sport’s best forwards, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, were kept quiet at the Stade de France though the former had a good chance to win it for Portugal in the second minute of injury time, only for Hugo Lloris to beat away his angled shot.

Portugal stayed top of Group 3 in League A, ahead of France on goal difference, with both teams on seven points as third-place Croatia beat Sweden 2-1.

England, without skipper Harry Kane until midway through the second half because of a slight injury, came from behind to beat Belgium, the world’s top-ranked team, and leap frog them at the top of Group 2 of League A.

Marcus Rashford’s penalty cancelled out Romelu Lukaku’s spot kick in the first half before Mason Mount’s slightly fortunate deflected shot clinched  victory.  England moved a point ahead of second-place Belgium and three above Denmark who beat rivals Iceland 3-0.

Spain remain on top of Nations League A Group 4 after they and Germany both recorded narrow wins on Saturday. Spain secured a scrappy 1-0 victory over Switzerland in Madrid while the Germans beat Ukraine 2-1 before 20,000 fans in Kyiv for their first ever victory in this competition.

Elsewhere Italy were held to a 0-0 draw against Poland but remained top of their group after the Netherlands drew by the same score against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Italy remained a point above the Netherlands and Poland in Group 1 of League A.

Erling Haaland netted a hat trick to help Norway thrash Romania 4-0 and make up for being eliminated in the European Championship playoffs by  Serbia. Norway are level on six points with Austria, who won 1-0 away at Northern Ireland, in Group 1 of League B.

In Group 2, Scotland beat bottom side Slovakia 1-0 to go top on seven points, with the Czech Republic, who won 2-1 in Israel, second on six points.

Group 3 leaders Russia were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Turkey, with Hungary making the most of that result by beating bottom side Serbia 1-0 to move into second place on six points, one behind the leaders.

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