Spain knocked off Nations League top spot after Switzerland loss | Portugal leapfrog rivals

Spain suffered a 2-1 defeat by Switzerland as goals from Manuel Akanji and Breel Embolo knocked the hosts off the top of Nations League Group A2 on Saturday with one game left to play.

The Swiss held firm against last year’s finalists for most of the game and handed their rivals only their second home loss in almost 20 years and their first in Spain since 2018.

The Spaniards are now in second place on eight points, having been leapfrogged by Portugal, who breezed past Czech Republic 4-0 away to reach 10 points.

Portugal’s Diogo Dalot, who scored his side’s third goal, celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s side will make the final four with at least a home draw in Tuesday’s crunch game against Spain, who must win in Braga to qualify for the semi-finals.

Switzerland are third on six points, two above than Czechs who they will face on Tuesday in a battle to avoid relegation.

Akanji opened the scoring with a header from a corner in the 21st minute, but Jordi Alba equalised for the hosts with a cross-shot from a counter-attack 10 minutes after the break.

Three minutes later, however, Embolo got the winner with a close-range strike from a corner after Akanji flicked the ball towards the six-yard-box where the striker turned it goalwards.

“We played against rivals that were really aggressive, pressing, physically very strong, who prevented us from playing our style of soccer,” Spain coach Luis Enrique told TVE.

“We were not on target, really erratic, the worse I can remember since I’ve been coaching this team. “We need to fix that because now we have a final at Portugal. We need to go there and win. There is no other way.”

In Portugal’s win in Prague, Ronaldo needed treatment early on after being caught in the face by goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik but soldiered on.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo suffered a nose injury during the game
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo suffered a nose injury during the game

The Portuguese controlled possession and opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when Rafael Leao swung a cross into the area and Diogo Dalot fired past goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.

Ronaldo missed a chance to double the lead before Fernandes put the visitors further ahead in first-half added time when he surged into the box and converted a cross from close range.

Ronaldo then conceded a penalty for handball but Patrik Schick blazed the spot kick over the bar just before the break.

Dalot netted his second goal soon after the interval with Jota rounding out the scoring in the 82nd minute to leave the 2019 winners in pole position to reach the semi-finals.

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