N’Golo Kante was the unexpected match-winner for France against Portugal on Saturday night.
The Chelsea midfielder, who started the game against the competition holders in Lisbon, scored when he was in the right place at the right time to tap home in the second half after Wolves keeper Rui Patricio had made a save. The win guarantees the French a place in the 2021 finals of the Nations League and means the Portuguese are eliminated. The goal was Kante’s second in international football, scored four-and-half-years after his first.
Olivier Giroud began the game on the bench and was introduced with 12 minutes left on the clock, by which time Kante had scored the winner.
Timo Werner was the toast of Germany after he scored the goals that turned around their UEFA Nations League game at home to Ukraine.
Our striker was playing in the stadium he used to call home in Leipzig but his side went behind early on to a team coached by Andriy Shevchenko. However, after Leroy Sane levelled the scores halfway through the first half, Werner put the Germans ahead with a close-range header before half-time. He then extended the Germans’ lead with a deflected shot in the second half to put his country top of their group.
Werner has now scored in five games in a row for club and country, with a total of seven goals in that time.
Toni Rudiger played his part too in the German victory, completing 90 minutes in a back three selected by Joachim Low.
Unlike Kante and Werner, Mateo Kovacic was on the losing side on Saturday in Croatia’s Nations League game. He started and played 78 minutes of their 2-1 defeat away to Sweden.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Thiago Silva was in the Brazil defence that kept a clean sheet in their World Cup qualifier against Venezuela. The Selecao won 1-0 at home in Sao Paolo with Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino scoring the goal in the second half. Brazil lead the South American qualification group with three wins out of three.