Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures as he holds the trophy after defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in the UEFA Nations League final soccer match at the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal, Sunday, June 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Portugal beats Netherlands to win 1st Nations League final

June 09, 2019 - 2:07 pm

PORTO, Portugal (AP) — Portugal has won the inaugural UEFA Nations League tournament, beating the Netherlands 1-0 in Sunday's final.

Gonçalo Guedes scored the winner early in the second half to give Portugal its first trophy since the 2016 European Championship.

The hosts' victory in UEFA's newest competition denied the Netherlands its first trophy since the 1988 European Championship. The revamped Dutch team was seeking some redemption after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship.

Cristiano Ronaldo, coming off a hat trick in the semifinals, wasn't much of a factor against Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk in the matchup of likely contenders for the player of the year award, but Guedes couldn't be stopped when he hit a powerful right-footed shot from outside the area in the 60th minute at the Estádio do Dragão.

Guedes started the build-up to the goal with a pass to Bernardo Silva, receiving the ball back at the top of the area and firing a firm low shot past Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who touched the ball but couldn't parry it away.

Portugal had lost the 2004 European Championship final at home to Greece, but this time it got to celebrate in front of its fans after a scrappy match in Porto.

The hosts were in control most of the match but struggled to get past the stout Dutch defense led by Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt.

Ronaldo's best chance was a header that went straight to Cillessen's hands about 30 minutes into the first half.

The Dutch improved after halftime but couldn't create many significant scoring chances, with Memphis Depay coming closest with a 65th-minute header saved by goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

The Netherlands kept pressing but Portugal was able to hold on to clinch the first title in the competition created by UEFA to give national teams more meaningful games and reduce the number of friendlies.

The Dutch had surprised in the group stage by eliminating the last two World Cup champions — France and Germany. It made it to the final after beating England 3-1 in the semifinal on Thursday.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos made changes from the team that defeated Switzerland 3-1 in the semifinals, taking out 19-year-old Joao Felix from the starting lineup and adding Guedes to the attack. He also used Danilo in midfield and Jose Fonte to replace the injured Pepe in the middle of the defense.

Koeman kept the same squad that defeated England in the semifinals.

Some of the loudest chants at the stadium came from English fans who likely had expected their national team to reach the final. England ended third after defeating Switzerland 6-5 in a penalty shootout earlier Sunday in Guimaraes.

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