Portugal rout the Czechs; Spain stumble against Switzerland

Sports Desk, Sep 24 (EFE).- Portugal pounded the Czech Republic 4-0 Saturday to move into first place in Nations League group A2 and need only a draw against Spain next week in the last group-stage match to claim a berth in the semifinals.

Spain began the day atop the group, but they lost 2-1 to Switzerland, which means they must prevail in the Match Day 6 clash with their Iberian neighbors to advance to the next round.

Only the group winners qualify for the semifinals and last-place finishers will be relegated to League B.

Unbeaten at home in 11 matches, the Czechs started ambitiously in front of their supporters in Prague only to find themselves down 2-0 after 45 minutes on goals from the Manchester United duo of Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes.

A chance to narrow the gap in first-half stoppage time thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hand ball fizzled when Patrik Schick fired over the cross-bar from the spot.

Dalot made it 3-0 in the 51st minute and Diogo Jota added a fourth goal with eight minutes left in regulation as Portugal, who hoisted the inaugural Nations League trophy in 2019, improved to 10 points, 2 better than Spain.

The Czechs, on 4 points, must beat the Swiss on Match Day 6 to avoid relegation.

Hosting Switzerland in Zaragoza, Spain had 75 percent possession, but managed to put only four shots on target and displayed weakness on both defense and the attack with just two months to go before the start of World Cup 2022.

Manuel Akanji grabbed the lead for the visitors with a header off a corner in the 21st minute. Jordi Alba brought La Roja level in the 55th, only to see Breel Embolo reclaim the lead for the Swiss three minutes later.

Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer turned aside shots from Borja Iglesias, Marcos Llorente and Carlos Soler in the final stretch to seal the victory, which boosted his side to 6 points.

It was only the second home loss for Spain in four years.

EFE gm-rmm/dr

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