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Switzerland 0-1 Spain, Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic: Nations League – as it happened | Nations League

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Righto, my watch is over – thanks for your company and comments and see you next time. Ta-ra.

Full-time scores

A2

Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic

Switzerland 0-1 Spain

**

B4

Norway 0-0 Slovenia

Sweden 0-1 Serbia

**

C2

Kosovo 3-2 Northern Ireland

Greece 3-0 Cyprus

**

C4

Gibraltar 1-1 Bulgaria

North Macedonia 0-3 Georgia

**

D2

Malta 1-2 Estonia

Full-time: Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic

Portugal top the group with seven from three; Czech Republic now sit third with four.

Full-time: Kosovo 3-2 Northern Ireland

For years, Norn Iron have been difficult to beat; not sop much more, and only goal difference keeps them off the bottom of their group – they and Cyprus have a point apiece, while Greece have nine and Kosovo six.

Full-time: Switzerland 0-1 Spain

It got a little edgy at the end, but Spain were largely untroubled and are right back in the group, their five points putting them second behind Portugal, who have seven. Switzerland sit bottom with nil pwa.

… Ujjkani swipes away, and the follow-up shot balloons over the bar.

Northern Ireland have a free-kick on the left …

Six -! – additional minutes in Pristina. Can Norn Iron save themselves?

Three additional minutes in Geneva; can Switzerland grab something? They win a throw deep inside the Spain half and it’s hurled long, but Torres, who’s been excellent if untested, heads clear.

That’s the thing with Spain – they’re far too ruthful, and suddenly another long hump from Sommer sticks Seferovic in! But his chest control is poor, totally missing the ball – he takes it well and he’s one-one-one – then Okafor squares for him, and his shot is blocked.

A long kick from Sommer, Simon charges out of his box, doesn’t get the ball, and Seferovic does brilliantly to slide into a challenge, hooking possession and finding Embolo … whose chips drifts wide!

I’ve stuck on the Kosovo game – I could only get coverage of two, so Portugal has gone off – and Ballard heads wide!

GOAL! Kosovo 3-2 Northern Ireland (Ballard 83)

Kosovo have seen this out pretty well, but all of a sudden Northern Ireland find a livener, and these last seven minutes should be frantic.

Daniel Ballard with a second headed goal for Northern Ireland. Photograph: Armando Babani / Getty Images

Switzerland only trail by a goal, but can’t get anything going. Meanwhile, in Lisbon, Portugal are pushing for a third.

Portugal send on Leao for Jota and Czech Republic Kral for Mateju; Spain to Soler for Llorente, then Switzerland try Seferovic for Akanji.

Llorente runs the channel and Azpilicueta finds him, but a heavy touch as he looks to get towards goal allows the challenge.

How is Ronaldo still out there? His team are 2-0 up and cruising, he’s 37 years old, and totally lost his way in the middle of last season when the matches came quickly. Surely he needs a rest?

I’ll level with youse: these second halves have not been great.

Spain have got to find themselves a reliable goalscorer. I guess they’re hoping Torres becomes that in the way David Silva did; if he can get there, they’ll be a very difficult team to beat.

Czech Republic send on Vlkanova for Hlazek while, in Geneva, Spain try Koke for Gavi and Asensio for Morata.

Spain’s lead is still a narrow one; I’d not be at all surprised if Switzerland switzerlanded them.

“Ronaldo’s ball across!” says our commentator, but I reckon that was a shot. Either way, Stanek hangs on.

Changes for Portugal, Vitinha for Bernardo and Fernandes for Carvalho.

Nice from Guedes, allowing a cross across his body while shaping to shoot. But just as he’s about to make it 3-0, a desperate tackle robs him.

Goncalo Guedes is thwarted by Michal Sadilek.
Goncalo Guedes is thwarted by Michal Sadilek. Photograph: Pedro Nunes / Reuters

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Llorente, who’s probably been Spain’s best player, collects a loose ball, runs away from goal, then swivels into a rasper that flies just wide of the far post. He’s very useful indeed.

Gibraltar have equalized in Bulgaria; Malta have equalized against Estonia.

Okafor looks a pretty decent prospect, so I’m looking forward to seeing if he can make an impression here.

Now Switzerland send on Steffen and Okafor for Zuber and Aebischer.

Spain send on Olmo for Sarabia.

Meantime, Czech Republic have a three on two! The main middle, Hlozek I think, finds Jurecka to his right, but instead of going across the keeper with precision – as Guedes did in scoring Portugals second – he thrashes wildly, a slice flying into the near-post side-netting.

“As much as I understand the complaining and fatigue about football needing a break,” emails João Fidalgo, “Spare a thought countries like Portugal, full of pretty handy footballers we only get to see when there are home friends. I guess this is not the same for English fans, but the atmosphere in Lisbon for these (mostly meaningless) matches is pretty nice (on TV. I’m not there). “

Yes, that’s a fair point – although I think the flu is the timing, not the existence.

Czech Republic have also improved, but Portgual look in the process of gradually taking back over.

Switzerland have looked a little better since half-time, but as I type that, Torres moseys across the face of the box from right to left and drills a low shot straight at Sommer.

GOAL! Greece 3-0 Cyprus (Limnios 48)

Greece will maintain their three-point lead over Kosovo at the top of League C Group 2.

GOAL! Kosovo 3-1 Northern Ireland (Muriqi 52)

Northern Ireland are having an absolute mare here. They were lucky not to concede at least three in the first half, and Kosovo have set things straight quickly after the restart.

Vedat Muriqi scores into an open goal.
Vedat Muriqi scores into an open goal. Photograph: Florion Goga / Reuters

Jurecka, on for Lingr, was one of three changes – Jemelka and Pesek are also on, for Havel and Kuchla.

Czech Republic make a decent start to the second half, clipping a ball into the box that Jurecka, on as sub wins in front of the keeper. But facing away from goal, he nods down and it won’t fall for any of his mates, then he’s flagged offside.

“I’m sure I’m not the first to say this,” muses Arwel Gwyn Jones, “But really, enough of the football already. We all need a bit of a break, fans as well as players. ”

I feel you, sort of. The players need a break, but international football also needs to exist, so I’m not sure what the solution is – and if the game was less morally bankrupt, we’d actually be getting ready for a World Cup.

We’re back under way …

Join me in 10 minutes for the second halves ….

GOAL! Sweden 0-1 Serbia (Jovic 45 + 3)

Serbia needs to win here, and they’re in prime position to get it.

Half-time scores

Kosovo 2-1 Northern Ireland

Norway 0-0 Slovenia

Greece 2-0 Cyprus

Gibraltar 0-1 Bulgaria

North Macedonia 0-0 Georgia

Malta 0-1 Estonia

Half-time: Switzerland 0-1 Spain

Spain are by far the better side, but Switzerland are still in it.

Pablo Sarabia (r) gave Spain the first half advantage.
Pablo Sarabia (r) gave Spain the first half advantage. Photograph: Eurasia Sport Images / Getty Images

GOAL! Kosovo 2-1 Northern Ireland (Lavery 44)

Spencer stands up a cross and Lavery nods home from two yards out. His team might’ve been further behind, but now they’re bang back in the game!

Shayne Lavery heads Northern Ireland back into the game.
Shayne Lavery heads Northern Ireland back into the game. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj / PA

Half-time: Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic

Portugal have played pretty well, especially in the last 20 minutes, and if they maintain their intensity I’d expect them to add to their goal-tally.

Portugal on the up.
Portugal on the up. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt / AMA / Getty Images

Ronaldo heads a Switzerland corner clear, then seconds later twinkles to the line when fed by the magnificent Bernardo and sees his cross knocked behind.

Looking at that second Portugal goal again, it really was an excellent finish. I’d wondered if Stanek should’ve saved it, but Guedes did so well to quickly work out how to beat him, then execute a finish that wasn’t perfect but was correct. And therefore perfect, I guess.

While I was describing that goal, Gavi perpetrated some footwork of absolute filth, beating two or three men inside a phone box. Him and Pedri in the same midfield is going to be something.

Incidentally, the various leagues in which these players play finished three weeks ago. I’m not sure they should still be flogging themselves now, though I don’t suppose there’s much option if we’re to preserve international football.

GOAL! Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic (Guedes 38)

Portugal are going clear at the top of the group! Neves plays a clever ball between the lines for Bernardo, who turns and slides a pass of his own for Guedes, running into space down the right of the box. But it goes outside not inside the defender, forcing Guedes to screw the shot to direct it across the keeper, and though he doesn’t get much pace on it, he directs it well enough and that should be enough for his team.

Goncalo Guedes doubles the lead for Portugal.
Goncalo Guedes doubles the lead for Portugal. Photograph: Soccrates Images / Getty Images

Spain are still pulling Switzerland all over the show. But they haven’t scored a second, or come especially close to so doing.

LOVELY GOAL! Portugal 1-0 Czech Republic (Cancelo 33)

Cancelo finds Bernardo down the right and there looks to be no danger. But he knows that his club mate will turn and slip the ball into the box, so he races into the space, it duly arrives, then he absolutely mashes a low finish into the far side-netting! I daresay Pep Guardiola should be credited with the assist for that one.

Joao Cancelo beats the challenge of Tomas Soucek to open the scoring.
Joao Cancelo beats the challenge of Tomas Soucek to open the scoring. Photograph: Soccrates Images / Getty Images

This is worthy of note, so too the enshrining of £ 30 away tickets – though £ 20 was plenty and still is.

GOAL! Greece 2-0 Cyprus (Pavlidis 20)

Greece look well set to make it three wins out of three – they’re top of the Northern Ireland group.

GOAL! Kosovo 2-0 Northern Ireland (Bytyqi 20)

Goodness me, it’s not going at all well for either Irish side, and though the North responded well to going behind, they conceded again when Spencer couldn’t clear a cross, and are in all sorts.

Zymer Bytyqi adds a second for Kosovans.
Zymer Bytyqi adds a second for the Kosovans. Photograph: Visar Kryeziu / AP

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