Portugal’s Nations League glory caps sizzling season for Silva

UEFA Nations League

It surely can’t get much better for Manchester City winger Bernardo Silva after he helped to steer Portugal to victory over Holland to claim the Uefa Nations League on Sunday night.

Not only did the fleet-footed flyer get his hands on another impressive piece of silverware (to add to the domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup with Pep Guardiola’s side), he also was named star player of the tournament. This was largely down to his display in the final as well as in the semi-final win over the Swiss.

Oh, and he also set up the only goal of the final, scored by Valencia attacker Goncalo Guede in the second half. Speaking after the triumphant game in Porto, Silva — rightfully brimming with pride — managed to put to one side his personal success and said of winning the inaugural event:

“I’m so happy to end it this way with these fantastic people that helped us over the past two games, and now it’s time to rest and prepare for next season and try to do even better.

“I’m very proud, the most important thing is Portugal won. I’m very proud to have won the first title with my country and of course if you can add to that the individual awards you just said, it’s even better. I’m very happy at the moment.”

Portugal coach Fernando Santos, whose team lifted the 2016 European Championship, says he has nothing but admiration for the effort and desire his stars showed to claim the victory. He added:

“For the last five years, we have been an almost indestructible family who know what we are capable of doing. We knew we could win this match. This is indeed a first edition of a tournament and I’m sure it’ll become a classic — the whole European family plays, and to win the first edition is historic.

“These players are brilliant, passionate and they have this drive on the pitch to win. We created five or six goal opportunities: we didn’t just defend, we knew how to attack too. It’s brilliant to have won it, but now we have to go take the next step forward.”

Holland played their part, however, and the narrow margin of the defeat against the hosts — who are now unbeaten in their past 10 outings — reflects just what an exciting side they are and what wonderful players they have. It’s not lost on boss Ronald Koeman but he also paid tribute to Santos’ side. He said:

“Portugal were masters at defending when they were ahead. We should have been a bit cleverer in looking for free kicks. And you just have to say that we were not good enough on the night.”

Meanwhile, England finished in third place after a penalty shootout win over Switzerland.