Friday, May 20, 2022

Nations League: France Win, Portugal Beat Croatia; Ukraine Forfeit Against Switzerland

Oliver Giroud scored twice for France, while Portugal win battle of nerves against Croatia; Ukraine forfeit following three COVID-19 positive tests

Nations League: France Win, Portugal Beat Croatia; Ukraine Forfeit Against Switzerland
France's goalkeeper Benoit Costil makes a save during the UEFA Nations League match against Sweden on Tuesday. AP

Olivier Giroud scored twice as France beat Sweden 4-2 to qualify unbeaten for the Final Four from first place in its group.

The win, and a 1-0 victory over Portugal last week, restored France's momentum after its surprise 2-0 friendly loss to Finland last week.

Victor Claesson gave Sweden the lead early on after dribbling through the French defense. Giroud's goals were a statement that he's still relevant for France ahead of the European Championships despite playing just 33 minutes for Chelsea in the English Premier League this season.


Center-back Ruben Dias scored two goals, including a late winner, as Portugal battled to a 3-2 win over a Croatian team which played nearly half the game with 10 men.

Dias scored both of his goals from loose balls at set pieces either side of a goal from Joao Felix which could have been ruled out for a handball in the buildup by Diogo Jota.

Croatia midfielder Marko Rog was sent off after a second yellow card for a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo, who didn't get any closer to Iran striker Ali Daei's record of 109 goals for a men's national team. Ronaldo remains on 102.

Croatia was at risk of relegation but was saved despite its defeat because of Sweden's loss to France.


UEFA will rule on whether Ukraine must forfeit its game against Switzerland after Swiss authorities ordered the whole Ukrainian team into quarantine following three positive tests for coronavirus reported Monday.

It was the second Nations League game to be canceled because of the virus, and the first from the top-tier League A. Switzerland needed a win against Ukraine to avoid relegation.

Ukraine also had positive tests for the virus last week among players and staff but was cleared to play Germany in a 2-1 loss on Saturday.

Germany coach Joachim Löw said he was surprised when two Ukraine players who took part in that game later tested positive for COVID-19, but wasn't worried his players could have been infected. All German players have since tested negative.

Norway's game against Romania scheduled for Nov. 15 was canceled when Norway was unable to travel to Romania for the game following a positive test for coronavirus in its squad.


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