Spain stumble against Switzerland; Portugal thump Czech Republic

The Nations League continued on Saturday with no fewer than nine games taking place across Europe.

We’re at the point of the campaign where wins and losses can dictate the final standings, and there were some major results in this latest batch of fixtures.

Here’s a rundown of the night’s biggest clashes.

Nations League A, Group 2

Spain’s eight-game unbeaten run came to an end in surprising fashion as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Switzerland.

Manuel Akanji headed Switzerland ahead midway through the first half, setting the tone for the remainder of the game. The visitors sat back and gifted Spain possession – Luis Enrique’s side ended with close to 75% of the ball – and made it hard for them to break through.

Spain did grab an equaliser ten minutes after half-time through Jordi Alba’s smart finish, but that was cancelled out just moments later as Eric Garcia turned the ball into his own net to inflict a surprise defeat.

It was Spain’s first home loss in 22 games and puts the pressure on ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with table-topping Portugal.

There were no such worries for Portugal, who continued their hot run of form with a comfortable 4-0 thumping of the Czech Republic.

Manchester United duo Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes both netted in the first half, but things nearly took an ugly turn when Cristiano Ronaldo was penalised for a handball in the box and the Czechs were awarded a penalty, but Patrik Schick sent his effort crashing against the bar.

Portugal caught their breath at half-time and Dalot fired home a second seven minutes into the second half, before Diogo Jota headed home a fourth late on to secure the win.

The scoreline was perhaps a little unfair on the Czech Republic, but for Portugal, it means a draw against Spain on Tuesday will see them win this group.

Nations League B, Group 1

Scotland returned to the top of Group 1 with an enthralling 2-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland.

After Troy Parrott’s earlier opener was ruled out for offside, John Egan gave Ireland the lead midway through the first half following some chaos from a corner.

Jack Hendry headed in an equaliser early in the second half but nearly saw his goal immediately cancelled out by Parrott, who broke on the counter but fluffed his lines when one-on-one with Craig Gordon.

It proved to be a pivotal moment as Scotland would go on to secure the victory courtesy of a Ryan Christie penalty, which was awarded after Alan Browne Superman-ed his way into a foolish handball with ten minutes to go.

Nations League C, Group 2

Winger Conor McMenamin was pulled from the Northern Ireland squad shortly before kick-off because of what the FA described as a ‘historic social media video’ which began circulating online.

Kosovo were the livelier of the two sides in what was an uninspiring first 45 minutes, and after Dion Charles saw a prospective opener ruled out for offside, Vedat Muriqi put the visitors ahead.

Jonny Evans saw a header cleared off the line before Josh Magennis’s aerial effort came back off the bar, but the equaliser came as Gavin Whyte tapped home Shayne Lavery’s cross with eight minutes to go.

Whyte turned creator in stoppage time as, with 92 minutes on the clock, his cross was met by a looping header from Magennis and the hosts wheeled off celebrating their first-ever Nations League win.

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