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France beat Portugal, bag finals spot

France beat Portugal, bag finals spot
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France beat Portugal, bag finals spot

Highlights

The winner-takes-all showdown between Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and world champion France was decided by one of the least likely scorers on the quality-packed pitch at Lisbon's Stadium of Light

Lisbon: The winner-takes-all showdown between Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and world champion France was decided by one of the least likely scorers on the quality-packed pitch at Lisbon's Stadium of Light.

Midfielder N'Golo Kanté, whose prowess is tackling, not scoring, notched the only goal of a 1-0 win that ended Portugal's bid to defend its Nations League title and sent the French into the final-of-four.

Joining the fray in a crowded area in search of a loose ball or rebound, Kanté was rewarded when goalkeeper Rui Patricio fumbled a ball into his path for him to finish off in the 54th minute. It was Kanté's second international goal in his 44th appearance for France. His other strike came in 2016 in a friendly against Russia.

France clinched a first-place finish in Group 3 with three more points than Portugal and the tiebreaker on head-to-head goals with one game to play. Portugal won last year's inaugural Nations League. France outplayed European champion Portugal and was denied a lead by halftime thanks only to Patricio.

"Given the quality of the opposition, it's of course one of our best performances of recent times," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "We deserved the win and we've fulfilled our objective of finishing top. I'm very proud of the players. They proved tonight that France are still a great team."

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