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Portugal held by Poland, Sweden promoted in Nations League

Paris, Wednesday @PeopleSports11

Portugal finished off their successful Nations League group campaign with a 1-1 draw against Poland in Guimaraes on Tuesday, while Sweden earned promotion to the top division.

Hosts Portugal had already qualified for June’s inaugural Nations League finals alongside England, the Netherlands and Switzerland, while Poland could not avoid relegation.

Fernando Santos’ side finished three points clear of Italy at the top of Group A3, after an unbeaten campaign despite the absence of star forward and captain Cristiano Ronaldo.

“It’s always good to have Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up, but we’ve proven that we have other quality players besides him,” centre-back Pepe told television channel RTP.

“The spirit of these players has been very positive. Now we have to be humble and respect the other teams in the final four and show our qualities.”

Renato Sanches started brightly for Portugal and saw an early effort blocked, and the 21-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder created the opening goal as his 34th-minute corner was headed in at the near post by Andre Silva.

The European champions appeared to be in control, but the game changed when Danilo Pereira was harshly sent off and Poland were awarded a penalty.

The referee gave the Porto midfielder his marching orders after Arkadiusz Milik tumbled to the floor under his challenge, despite appearing to win the ball cleanly.

The Napoli striker picked himself up to slot the ball past Beto in the Portugal goal and level for the visitors with quarter of the match still remaining.

Poland have struggled since a disappointing World Cup group-stage exit, failing to win in the Nations League, and they wasted late chances, with Piotr Zielinski being denied by Beto and Damian Kadzior firing wide as the 10 men held on.

“I thought the double red card and penalty call was harsh, from my point of view it didn’t exist,” bemaoned Portugal coach Santos. “The referee could whistle for a penalty and not give a red card. In spite of that I’m proud of the players.”  -AFP

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