Lisbon, Sep 11 (IANS) Playing without captain and superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal cruised 1-0 over an ineffective Italian side in the inaugural UEFA Nations League match for the hosts.
Andre Silva had a chance to give Portugal the lead with a shot from the edge of the box in the 19th minute here on Monday and only an alert Italian defender stopped Bernardo Silva (no relation to Andre) a few minutes later, reports EFE news agency.
The Azzurri, who opened their Nations League campaign last Friday with a 1-1 draw against Poland, seemed uncertain of their tactics and repeatedly gave away the ball in their own half.
The controversial play of the night came in the 34th minute, when the referee failed to award a penalty after an Italian defender fouled Portugal’s Pizzi in the box.
Italy nearly handed Portugal a goal in the 42nd minute as a clumsy attempt at a clearance hit the cross-bar.
In the second half, the home side picked up where they left off and Andre Silva scored the eventual winner in the 47th minute with an assist from Bruma.
Bernardo Silva would have made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute but for a tremendous stop by Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The Portuguese went into defending mode for the final 15 minutes as Italy’s Simone Zaza sought desperately for the equaliser.