Diogo Dalot struck twice as Portugal crushed the Czech Republic 4-0 in Prague to go top of Group A2 in the Nations League.
The Manchester United full-back opened the scoring after 33 minutes, with club-mate Bruno Fernandes doubling Portugal’s lead before Patrik Schick smashed a penalty over the bar following a VAR call at the end of the first half.
Dalot scored again shortly after the break, and Diogo Jota added gloss to the scoreline late on.
The result moved Portugal above Spain in the standings with one round of games left to play.
Antonin Barak wasted the best chance for the hosts on the half-hour mark as he headed wide, and he would rue his error when Dalot broke the deadlock from close range after Rafael Leao prevented the ball from going out of play by cutting back into the middle.
A dramatic end to the opening half saw Fernandes volley home Mario Rui’s cross to double Portugal’s lead, before Cristiano Ronaldo was penalised for handball at the other end, the VAR intervention resulting in a penalty that Schick wasted.
Any hopes of a comeback for the Czech Republic suffered a significant dent six minutes after the restart, Dalot netting his second of the game when he curled home a low effort from outside the penalty area.
Further opportunities were few and far between, but there was time for Portugal to extend their lead further, substitute Jota heading home following a corner in the 82nd minute.
What does it mean? Portugal’s pursuit continues
Having won the inaugural Nations League in 2019, Portugal’s quest to reclaim the trophy continued courtesy of a dominant victory in Prague, alongside Spain’s surprising defeat to Switzerland in the group’s other match.
Portugal host Spain in their final Nations League match on Tuesday and know that anything other than a defeat will secure safe passage to the Nations League Finals next year.
While attentions are turning towards the World Cup, the Nations League presents a strong opportunity for the Portuguese – particularly with the likes of England, Germany and France falling short.
Double agent Dalot dazzles
Dalot certainly fits the bill as an unlikely match winner for Portugal but deserves all the plaudits after his double, opening the scoring and then ensuring there would be no comeback with his killer second goal.
Dalot’s goals came from his only two shots in the game, with an expected goals (xG) tally of 0.39 combined.
Blazing a first-half penalty over the top of the bar, Czech striker Schick had an evening to forget with just one shot on target from a game-high seven attempts, while his xG stood at 1.19, emphasising the value of his missed opportunities.
Portugal host Spain on Tuesday in a game that will decide the group winners, while the Czech Republic and Switzerland face off on the same night in a bid to avoid relegation to League B.