Spain v Portugal, Northern Ireland v Greece: Nations League – live! | Nations League


6 min: Sarabia strides down the left and slips a cute ball infield for Gavi, who is storming down the channel in plenty of space. Just as he reaches the area, Gavi loses the run of his legs and trips over them in the frantic style. A promising situation for Spain goes to waste.

4 min: Portuguese hearts in mouths as Azpilicueta takes a shot that’s blocked. The ball pings to Gavi, who nearly buries a shot from the edge of the box. It’s deflected inches wide right, then at the corner Portugal keeper Diogo Costa flaps hysterically. He’s fortunate to get a second chance to claim the ball.

2 min: Azpilicueta and Morata try to combine crisply down the right, but Pepe is having none of it. He snaffles possession and clears up.

Portugal get the game underway in Seville. A rare old atmosphere as you’d imagine.

The teams are out! We’ll be off in a minute or two, with Spain-Portugal very much front and centre of this blog. “The Spain team’s official Tweet is a bit overenthusiastic (EQUIPAZO!) but fair enough, a bit of oomph before you start never goes amiss (until later maybe). But the eye-catching thing is our old friends Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets still being in the team. Combined age probably in three figures. Perhaps there is hope for us all yet,” writes Charles Antaki, 99.

Spain and Portugal are facing off at Real Betis’s Estadio Benito Villamarín. Luis Enrique has gone for Valencia’s Carlos Soler in midfield ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Koke, but the big news is made by Portugal coach Fernando Santos, who has decided to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, with André Silva spearheading the attack instead. João Moutinho gets a go on the captain’s armband as a result.

The 21-year-old Fleetwood winger Paddy Lane starts at left wing-back for Northern Ireland tonight, as they begin their Nations League campaign at home to Euro 2004 winners Greece. Liverpool’s Conor Bradley, who turns 19 next week, lines up on the opposite flank, with 34-year-old Leicester stalwart Jonny Evans in the middle. Kyle Lafferty, fresh from winning promotion with Kilmarnock, is back in the squad for the first time since last September, and starts on the subs bench.

Bradley will be coming face to face with his Liverpool team-mate, left-back Kostas Tsimikas. Celtic striker Giorgos Giakoumakis leads the line up front, while Sheffield United’s George Baldock, who qualifies for Greece through his grandmother, is on the bench and hoping to make his international debut.

The teams from Seville

The teams from Windsor Park

The 5pm full times

… and we’ve already had a spot of high drama this evening. With eight seconds of four extra minutes to play between Bulgaria and North Macedonia in Razgrad, with the score 1-1, the referee awarded the hosts a penalty when Martin Minchev’s speculative shot hit Visar Musliu on the elbow. VAR got involved, though, and upon second viewing the ref decided Musliu’s elbow was right by the side of his body, while there was little distance between the two players and therefore no time to react. No penalty, and Bulgaria end the evening with smoke pouring out of the old lugs.

C2
Cyprus 0-2 Kosovo

C4
Bulgaria 1-1 North Macedonia
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

D2
Estonia 2-0 San Marino

Preamble

Football, having barely stopped for the last two years, keeps on keepin’ on. Just when we thought the players could scoot off for a well-deserved summer holiday – long lie-ins, sunbeds by the pool, tinnies, the whole shebang – here comes the Nations League! Tonight’s big game is the Iberian showdown between Spain and Portugal, though we’ll also keep an eye on Northern Ireland versus Greece, plus all the other 7.45pm BST kick-offs.

There were a few 5pm BST kick-offs as well, and they’ll be finishing in a minute. More on them anon. But in the meantime, here’s tonight’s full card (all times BST):

A2
Czech Republic v Switzerland (7.45pm)
Spain v Portugal (7.45pm)

B2
Albania v Russia (P)
Israel v Iceland (7.45pm)

B4
Serbia v Norway (7.45pm)
Slovenia v Sweden (7.45pm)

C2
Cyprus v Kosovo (5pm)
Northern Ireland v Greece (7.45pm)

C4
Bulgaria v North Macedonia (5pm)
Georgia v Gibraltar (5pm)

D2
Estonia v San Marino (5 pm)

All the news and more as we have it. The 2022-23 Nations League: it’s on!





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