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Portugal 0-0 Spain: Woodwork denies Ronaldo in lively friendly clash



Spain and Portugal played out an entertaining 0-0 friendly draw on Wednesday in a warm-up match for the next round of Nations League games.

Luis Enrique’s men controlled the first half in Lisbon but had the crossbar to thank for keeping Cristiano Ronaldo and Renato Sanches at bay in the second half.

Each side experimented with their line-ups as a handful of players won their first senior caps, including Wolves winger Adama Traore, who nearly set up Dani Olmo for a winner.

Rui Patricio made three saves in the opening 17 minutes, his best a second-minute block from Gerard Moreno after he spun into space from Olmo’s pass.

Such was Spain’s control in the first 40 minutes that Ronaldo had only one touch of the ball in their penalty area, as Portugal failed to muster a shot on target.

They did let their guards down just before the break, though, Raphael Guerreiro blasting a half-volley over the bar and Ronaldo sending a tricky header wide from Joao Moutinho’s free-kick.

Ronaldo was inches from breaking the deadlock early in the second half, smashing a shot off the underside of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s crossbar from the edge of the area.

Portugal must have wondered whether the woodwork was cursed when Ronaldo played in Sanches, who thundered a half-volley at goal only to see it bounce off the bar, onto the line and away.

Substitute Traore cut the ball back for Olmo to fire straight at Patricio, before Kepa was at last called into action, saving well at the feet of Trincao after a good run from Joao Felix.

Portugal should have snatched the win in injury time too, Felix failing to turn the ball into the net after Ruben Semedo’s glancing header.

What does it mean? Strikerless Spain looking sharp

Luis Enrique made it clear before the game that a lack of obvious options in the number nine role was not a particular concern for him.

He will certainly have been impressed with the way his makeshift line-up created several first-half openings before the game rather quietened down after the hour mark.

Portugal, who similarly fielded a weakened side, will consider this a good work-out before facing world champions France.

Late-bloomer Canales looks right at home

Spain’s central midfield is an imposing place to be, but Sergio Canales was cool and accomplished here, misplacing just one of 53 passes and winning each of his two duels in a 62-minute outing.

Thiago Alcantara and Fabian Ruiz might be first choice alongside Sergio Busquets, but Canales – who is 29 and only made his Spain debut last year – looks worthy of such esteemed company.

Santos should consider striker-free approach

Portugal were under Spain’s control in a first half in which centre-forward Andre Silva only touched the ball 13 times. When he was replaced by Bernardo Silva at half-time and Fernando Santos set up a more fluid forward line, the home side looked threatening every time they went forward.

Food for thought, perhaps.

What’s next?

The next round of Nations League matches beckons this weekend. Spain host Switzerland on Saturday, with Portugal heading to France on Sunday.

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