David McGoldrick headed a late equaliser to extend the Republic of Ireland's unbeaten start to Euro 2020 qualifying as they snatched a 1-1 home draw against Switzerland.

Ireland were heading for a first defeat of the campaign in their fifth outing when Fabian Schar struck 16 minutes from time in Thursday's Group D clash at the Aviva Stadium.

But McGoldrick found a way through at the other end in the 85th minute to earn his side a share of the spoils from their only on-target attempt of the second half.

The result could prove to be crucial for Mick McCarthy's side as it keeps them six points in front of Switzerland, who are also unbeaten and have two games in hand over the leaders.

Jordan Pickford believes his realisation he is no longer a "normal lad" has helped him mature and cement his position as England's first-choice goalkeeper.

After a superb World Cup in Russia last year, Pickford's form for club side Everton during the 2018-19 season came under scrutiny.

He also made headlines off the pitch in early April after footage emerged on social media showing him involved in a fracas outside a bar in his hometown of Sunderland.

The 25-year-old ended his season on a high, however, keeping five clean sheets in the Toffees' last seven Premier League games.

He followed that with a starring role in England's third-place finish in the Nations League, scoring and saving a penalty as Gareth Southgate's side beat Switzerland 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in their play-off on Sunday.

Pickford is determined to remain grounded despite his rapid ascent in the game but he believes a better understanding of his status as one of English football's most high-profile names is helping his development.  

"I think the main thing about it is that I am a normal lad but then sometimes you have got to realise you are not a normal lad; you are an England footballer," he told a media conference.

"I just want to be a normal lad, but you have got to realise in certain situations that you can't be. You learn from everything, how to become a man and grow.

"So, you move on from that and after that incident I pushed on at the end of the season and got a lot of clean sheets. It just shows my character."

Asked if he was growing into the role of Gareth Southgate's undisputed first-choice goalkeeper, Pickford added: "Yeah, I think you always learn and mature in every game, whether it is club or international level.

"I think I started on the front foot and there has been a lot of pressure, but I don't feel pressure. I just want to go and express myself and do the best for the nation and for the team.

"I don't feel any pressure and just feel I can get better to better."

Gareth Southgate was left bemused by England being given medals for finishing third at the Nations League – but not at a presentation.

England beat Switzerland 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in Guimaraes on Sunday, with Jordan Pickford decisively saving from Josip Drmic after having scored one of his own.

The Three Lions lost to Belgium in a third-place play-off at the World Cup last year, after which FIFA president Gianni Infantino awarded bronze medals to players and staff members.

Southgate was unsure why there was not a similar formal presentation at UEFA's inaugural tournament.

"I've not seen them yet, so it's quite ironic really that we've had to go through another third-fourth play-off and the one we win, we don't even get them in front of the fans!" Southgate told reporters of his side's medals. "So, it's just lobbed in there, lobbed to us. 

"I remember some of the guys who were at Liverpool that I played with said that [former manager] Joe Fagan used to throw the medals down the back of the bus in the following pre-season and say, 'Get on with it, and if you've played enough games, take one', and that probably would pretty much sum up where we'd be at with this.

"The only other medals I guess we've been involved with is the Tournoi [de France in 1997] in Glenn [Hoddle]'s time. So, it's nice that we've got some acknowledgement for what we've done over the last year. But, I think we'll all be parking it to one side and looking forward."

Individual mistakes cost England a place in the final, Netherlands running out 3-1 winners in the semis, and Southgate accepted his team will be disappointed not to end a major international silverware drought dating back to the 1966 World Cup.

"I think for me, the significant step is the level of disappointment that we haven't left here having gone to the final and won the trophy," he added. "And that took, I have to say, that took some lifting over the last couple of days for everybody, because none of us were satisfied.

"We think we played fine on Thursday but made ridiculous mistakes, so it was important that we responded today with a high level of performance. The players adapted really well, we changed the shape, and they carried that out really well and we should have won the game.

"We deserved to win the game with the opportunities we created and the number of times we hit the woodwork so the healthy thing for me was that: a good response, some really good discussions over the last couple of days about our dissatisfaction with only getting as far as we have, and a real determination for all of us that we recognise now that you don't get many opportunities as an international team and we need to make sure that we really strive to take the next step over the next couple of years."

Switzerland were indebted to goalkeeper Yann Sommer for a string of saves that took the game to penalties, while England hit the woodwork on three occasions and had a Callum Wilson goal ruled out after a VAR check, and coach Vladimir Petkovic accepted his side were made to work hard without the ball.

"It wasn't an easy game for us. It was a game where we started off well, had a few chances," Petkovic told reporters. "But England were better in the first half and all in all I'd say that we showed a solid performance.

"We faced a team that had greater possession and sometimes you just have to leave the ball to them. I need to congratulate England on that third place they achieved and maybe next time we will have to practice penalties a little more."

Fabian Schar and Kevin Mbabu probably did not appreciate the attempts of their opponents to rouse this lulling Nations League occasion.

England midfielder Fabian Delph lined up a slide tackle from some distance on his Swiss namesake in the 18th minute, avoiding the yellow card that fellow former Leeds United youth teamer Danny Rose would collect for clattering into Mbabu.

It amounted to a percussive form of West Yorkshire resuscitation on a goalless match it was virtually impossible to shake any life into before Jordan Pickford scored and saved to win it on penalties.

Following the 3-1 defeat to Netherlands on Thursday, there was talk of Gareth Southgate's men having a semi-final problem, having fallen to Croatia at the same stage of the World Cup 12 months ago.

Given the abject state of the country's national football team for much of this century, it feels like a luxurious quandary. Elite players need no extra motivation to reach finals, but the incentive of avoiding further trips to the relevance vacuum of third-place matches might just sharpen the minds of the Three Lions.

For their part, Southgate and his players tried to make their outing at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques as useful as possible.

A line-up featuring seven changes was able to switch between three and four at the back as a result of Eric Dier's presence. Such flexibility could be a useful string to their bow against high-class opposition, given a common theme of the Croatia and Netherlands losses was England becoming a touch predictable and therefore unable to turn the tide when the games began to slip from their grasp.

As expected, Southgate changed his full-backs, with Rose and Trent Alexander-Arnold underlining the embarrassment of riches in that department. Alexander-Arnold rounded off a fine season with an accomplished display. His delivery for Dele Alli to head wastefully over 10 minutes before half-time was exquisite.

Raheem Sterling frequently launched into those scampering runs that have elevated 51 Manchester City games this season, one of which led to Callum Wilson's disallowed goal that briefly looked to have spared the ordeal of extra time. The City forward's thumping free-kick against the crossbar was the closest anyone came to averting penalties.

But the tank looked empty as Sterling lacked his usual verve and sharpness in missed chances and heavy touches. It is entirely understandable.

A head-scratching format and the bolting of more competitive fixtures onto an already packed calendar meant UEFA's launch of the Nations League received a lukewarm response.

But the action across September, October and November last year frequently delighted, never more so than when it involved the two teams dutifully fulfilling their obligations in Guimaraes.

England's feelgood factor from Russia 2018 rumbled on with stirring wins over Spain and Croatia, while Switzerland's logic-defying 5-2 comeback to sink Belgium and book their place in Portugal ranks among the very best performances of 2018-19.

The June staging of the last four is more or less unavoidable and the tournament has the finalist it needs in hosts Portugal, with Porto braced for its latest bout of Ronaldo-mania later on Sunday.

By full-time in that game, you might only remember major events from this one because it carried on half an hour longer than anyone wanted.

UEFA does not have a third place at the European Championship – much to its credit when set against the World Cup trudging on with its own fumble for bronze – and including one in this fledgling tournament was a mis-step.

Third place in the Nations League could have been decided by the losing semi-finalist with the best group-stage record, freeing up those involved for far more productive use of a sunny Portuguese afternoon in early June.

Josip Drmic saw his spot-kick saved by Jordan Pickford as England beat Switzerland 6-5 on penalties to claim third place in the Nations League after a goalless draw in Guimaraes.

In the first 90 minutes, England were twice denied by goalkeeper Yann Sommer making fingertip saves to push the ball onto the woodwork, while Callum Wilson had a late strike ruled out following a VAR check.

Sommer again came to Switzerland's rescue during the 30 additional minutes but despite a steady stream of excellent Trent Alexander-Arnold crosses England could not find the breakthrough.

Gareth Southgate's side broke their penalty malaise at last year's World Cup and, after 11 converted kicks, including one from Pickford, the Everton keeper dived to his right to keep out Drmic's poor effort and finally settle the prolonged play-off clash.

England almost opened the scoring in the second minute, but Harry Kane's clever chip bounced back off the crossbar after goalkeeper Sommer got a touch to the ball.

Kane freed Raheem Sterling for a one-on-one chance but his tame finish was blocked by Sommer, the forward then failing to convert a right-wing cross from Alexander-Arnold.

Another pinpoint Alexander-Arnold delivery created an even better opportunity for Dele Alli in the 35th minute but his header flew over the crossbar.

Sommer made a great save to prevent Fabian Schar scoring an own goal after the interval, turning a deflection off the defender onto the post, then at the other end Pickford was called into action to push away Granit Xhaka's firm drive.

Substitute Wilson seemed to have won it late on for England, but the strike was disallowed after a VAR check for his foul on Manuel Akanji in the build-up.

A brilliant double save by Sommer maintained the deadlock in extra time, with the woodwork saving Switzerland again when Sterling beat the goalkeeper with a 20-yard free-kick.

Sommer could do nothing about England's penalties, though, with Pickford netting himself before making the decisive save from Drmic in the shoot-out.

What does it mean? England experiment with flexibility

Southgate used a fairly irrelevant game to try a new tactical system, which saw England alternate from a traditional back four to more of a central three, with Eric Dier dropping into defence from the base of midfield.

Switzerland's lack of goal threat is no secret - last year's 5-2 defeat of Belgium remains a curious outlier - but a solid defence should see them reach Euro 2020 relatively easily.

Sharp Sommer stars for Swiss

That Switzerland stayed in the game owed much to their goalkeeper, who twice made vital interventions to turn the ball onto the woodwork. On the back of a solid season for Borussia Monchengladbach, Sommer stood out for his composure and reactions in key moments.

Tired Sterling wasteful for Three Lions

England could and perhaps should have been out of sight at half-time, but Sterling failed to make the most of two clear chances. The Manchester City winger looked like a long season had caught up with him with fatigue seemingly playing a part in an under-par display, a heavy touch in the box during the second half summing up his frustrating efforts.

What's next?

Both teams will enjoy a deserved rest before the 2019-20 season. In September, England's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign sees them host Bulgaria and Kosovo, while Switzerland play the Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar.

England will leave Portugal with a sense of disappointment following their second tournament near miss in as many years, says manager Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions take on Switzerland in Sunday's Nations League third-place match, returning to the Estadio D. Afonso Henrique in Guimaraes, where they were beaten 3-1 in extra time by Netherlands on Thursday.

Errors from John Stones and Ross Barkley leading to Dutch goals in the additional period made the loss a tough one to take for Southgate and his team, a year on from their World Cup semi-final reverse against Croatia.

"We're at the stage now where we know as a team we're close to getting into finals and the opportunities to win trophies," the England boss told a pre-match news conference.

"Everyone is disappointed throughout the camp but what has been encouraging is the players are highly motivated about how we've got to be spot on going forward.

"I've seen some positive signs in that response but of course we're unhappy.

"We're steps beyond where we've been for the last 15 or 20 years but we're not happy with that. Whatever happens tomorrow we will leave here with a sense of disappointment."

Southgate rejected suggestions that there were a worrying number of parallels between the Netherlands loss and the Croatia defeat after England again lost a lead and appeared to cede control of midfield to a technically savvier team.

"I think It's a different game to the semi-final. We had a period at the start where we weren't able to play though their press as well as we should but then we had a period where we did that well," he added.

"The start of the second half we were on top and then they were on top. They had a lot of possession without creating. All their chances came from our possession."

England will remain committed to their style of building play from the back despite Stones and Barkley erring – something their manager made light of.

"Last year we got it tactically wrong," Southgate said. "We stopped trying to play out. We certainly didn't stop trying to play out the other night. Whether we did it well is another matter."

Ben Chilwell and Jordan Henderson are doubts for the Switzerland match, along with Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, who was substituted at half-time in midweek following a robust tackle from Denzel Dumfries.

"I don't think it'll be a long-term thing," Southgate said of Rashford. "We just had a 48-hour turnaround for this game so it's hard to get anyone back from any injury at all. I don't think it's a significant one."

Harry Kane has challenged his England team-mates to learn from another semi-final loss that compounded a week of personal heartache for the Tottenham striker.

Kane made his first appearance in almost two months following his latest ankle setback when Spurs went down 2-0 to Liverpool in last Saturday's Champions League final.

Gareth Southgate opted not to start his captain against Netherlands in Guimaraes but he came on at half-time for Marcus Rashford, who was injured in a challenge with Denzel Dumfries after winning and converting a penalty that opened the scoring.

But Kane was left once again frustrated and feeding off scraps against a defence marshalled by Virgil van Dijk, with the Three Lions subsiding to a 3-1 extra-time loss – errors from John Stones and Ross Barkley leading to a Kyle Walker own-goal and a late Quincy Promes strike after Matthijs de Ligt powered in a headed equaliser, atoning for his earlier foul on Rashford.

"It hurts, it hurts a lot," Kane said. "Of course, this week could have been so different and, as a professional athlete, that's what you dream about.

"You dream about lifting trophies and winning games, so it'll hurt over the summer. It's something you can't just clear out of your mind.

"But I think it's important, not just for me but for all the lads who've had tough years to refresh as much as possible with the mind and body.

"Of course, it comes around fast. Before we know it, it will be the Premier League again and we'll be talking again.

"But it hurts. There's nothing else I can say. I want to win, the boys want to win and the Spurs boys want to win.

"It wasn't our week. The only thing you can do is learn from it."

Since their surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals last year, England have changed formation and become a more potent attacking force – besting Spain and Russia 2018 conquerors Croatia in their Nations League group before plundering five goals apiece against the Czech Republic and Montenegro to emphatically kick-off qualifying for Euro 2020 three months ago.

But Thursday's loss at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, where Southgate's men will return for Sunday's third-place match against Switzerland, felt in some ways like being transported back to the Moscow defeat to Croatia as a technically savvy midfield systematically sapped England and broke them down.

Even so, Kane is keen not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

"It would have been easier just to take your foot off the gas and be happy with what we achieved," he said.

"But we got to a semi-final [in a competition] of the best 12 teams in Europe. We had a tough group with Spain and Croatia and we got through. That was progression.

"Of course it hurts a bit to lose in a semi-final like this, but we're knocking on the door and that's what we want to take inspiration from."

After dealing with their unwanted weekend obligation, England will begin a year-long countdown to a Euro 2020 tournament that concludes with semi-finals and a final at Wembley.

Kane believes such a huge incentive will encourage his team-mates to harness their latest bitter setback.

"That's the challenge now," he added. "We won't know until we get there, of course, but we've got to use these big games and these big disappointments to motivate us and help us learn.

"We are a young team but more of us now are playing big games for club and country. It's a good sign of where the nation's going.

"But, of course, in those big moments it's down to us now to progress and find a way to win."

Cristiano Ronaldo is "not in this world" according to Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka, who feels clear daylight remains between the Portugal and Juventus star, Lionel Messi and the rest of football's prime talents.

Ronaldo scored the 53rd hat-trick of his professional career in stunning style to fire Portugal past Switzerland 3-1 in Porto on Wednesday and into the final of the inaugural Nations League Finals.

Switzerland levelled through a controversial VAR-awarded Ricardo Rodriguez penalty, which cancelled out Ronaldo's blistering 25th-minute free-kick, only for the 34-year-old to leave Estadio do Dragao in raptures with a pair of late strikes - Xhaka coughing up possession for the break that saw him claim the matchball.

"I think we had a very good game. In my opinion we were the better team but the difference is they have Ronaldo," said the Arsenal midfielder, who will now prepare for a third-place match in Guimaraes against England after Netherlands triumphed 3-1 during extra time in Thursday's semi-final.

"It's unbelievable what a player he is. It's not for nothing that he's one of the best players in the world.

"He's special because he knows always where you have to go and to be.

"I think we had him in our hands but, in the end, he scored three times and we lost the game.

"I think we can be proud how we play, against a very good team."

Before the match, Xhaka suggested the challenge facing Ronaldo was perhaps comparable to taking on Real Madrid-bound Eden Hazard, who dazzled as Chelsea ran out 4-1 winners over Arsenal in the Europa League final last week.

But afterwards the 26-year-old conceded his most recent tormentor and Messi reside on a different plane.

Asked whether Ronaldo was the best player in the world, he replied: "One of them. In my opinion you have two of them. They are not in this world.

"Those two are clear of the rest. If you play at 34 on this level you deserve a lot of respect.

"He shows in all the games – international and with Juventus – that he has unbelievable quality.

"It's difficult to stop him and he showed up not in a good moment for us."

When Cristiano Ronaldo completed a stunning hat-trick to fire Portugal into the final of the Nations League, Jose Fonte looked on knowingly.

Veteran centre-back Fonte had been thrust into the fray at Estadio do Dragao after fellow long-time national team servant Pepe suffered an arm injury during the second half.

Ricardo Rodriguez's controversial VAR-review penalty in the 57th minute cancelled out Ronaldo's blistering first-half free-kick and Portugal struggled for significant periods against Vladimir Petkovic's enterprising Swiss side.

But Ronaldo combined with Bernardo Silva after Ruben Neves sublimely picked out the Manchester City playmaker to fire the hosts ahead two minutes from time, before a similarly superb solo strike secured the matchball – an 88th international goal and 53rd hat-trick of a stellar professional career.

"It's not surprising, that is what he does and what he is paid for club wise," Lille defender Fonte said afterwards on Wednesday,

"When he comes here we don't expect anything else, that is why he is the best in the world.

"It is good to have him and we just need to explore in the best way we can and do the work for him."

It certainly felt like an exercise in exploration for the most part as Portugal, operating with Silva at the tip of a diamond midfield including the free-scoring Bruno Fernandes, tried with mixed success to service Ronaldo and 19-year-old Benfica protege Joao Felix.

Sporting CP's Fernandes and Joao Felix – the latter making a much-anticipated international debut – failed to bring their sparkling club form to bear, but Fonte feels it will be a matter of time.

"We have lots of talent coming through, we are blessed having so many good players," he said.

"Now it is just about gelling everyone, incorporating these players we have coming up and finding the best solution for our development.

"We are going to try and improve our game, our style and we are just blessed to have so many good players."

Fonte added: "We created a magnificent second goal - good movement, everyone involved - and then the third goal killed the game and finished it in style."

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic felt Portugal's "street smarts" and the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo were decisive in the first Nations League semi-final.

A hat-trick from the Juventus star sent the host nation into Sunday's final with a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in Porto on Wednesday.

Petkovic's side were the stronger for spells of the match and deserved to be level when Ronaldo's first-half free-kick was cancelled out by Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty.

However, Ronaldo scored twice more in the space of two minutes in the closing stages to secure a showdown with either England or Netherlands on Sunday.

"Congratulations to Portugal," Petkovic said afterwards, as quoted by UEFA.com. "They had street smarts, they had the cherry on top of the cake and that made the difference. Four shots, three goals.

"On the one hand, we were up against a very strong opponent, but over 90 minutes we showed we're a strong team and that we can make life for a top side difficult, too.

"We were trying to keep the score; we had the chance to get a second but didn't take it. We got outnumbered at the back and conceded. Their top player made the difference."

Switzerland's penalty was awarded in remarkable circumstances, with referee Felix Brych penalising Nelson Semedo for a trip on Steven Zuber after a VAR review, having initially given Portugal a spot-kick for a foul by Fabian Schar on Bernardo Silva.

"The foul wasn't that clear – the penalty we were given – but it was the right decision and in conformity with the rules and the referee did a very good job," was Petkovic's assessment.

Xherdan Shaqiri, who impressed for a Switzerland side that will now contest the third-place play-off, thinks his side must learn to be more ruthless.

"We were the better team, for sure, but Ronaldo decided the game. This is football sometimes," said the Liverpool man. 

"We can't always play well and lose. We have to learn from our mistakes and do better next time."

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos labelled Cristiano Ronaldo a "football genius" after the star's hat-trick against Switzerland on Wednesday.

Ronaldo's hat-trick led the Nations League Finals hosts into the decider courtesy of a 3-1 win in Porto midweek.

It took the 34-year-old's tally to 88 international goals and marked his 53rd career hat-trick, with two of his strikes coming in the final two minutes.

Santos was predictably full of praise for Ronaldo, who sent Portugal into a final against either England or Netherlands.

"In terms of adjectives to describe Ronaldo's game – I've used many. I was his coach in 2003 and I could see where he'd go," he said, via UEFA.

"He's a genius. There's genius paintings and sculptures and he's a football genius."

Ronaldo's first-half free-kick had been cancelled out by a Ricardo Rodriguez penalty, but he struck twice more late on.

Santos acknowledged the Juventus star made the difference, but praised Switzerland for their performance.

"When someone scores three goals, they are the difference maker. It was tough game, it was well played – two sides who are very strong, playing to win," he said.

"They're strategically well organised, changing their formation. Their players know what they have to do on the pitch, limiting some of the gaps we'd thought about."

England and Netherlands meet for a place in the final on Thursday, with the loser to face Switzerland for third place.

Yann Sommer seemed to sum up the giddy excitement around Joao Felix being handed a full international debut when the sight of the Portugal youngster scampering towards him, inside the first 30 seconds at Estadio do Dragao, caused the Switzerland goalkeeper to fall over.

Danger was averted on that occasion in the first semi-final of the inaugural Nations League Finals, but this was a match that never fully seemed to regain its balance until the mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo stood the whole thing on its head, inspired a 3-1 win and walked off with the match ball.

Of course, all eyes were on him once more – that's just the 88 international goals and 53 career hat-tricks – even if that was not entirely the case at kick-off.

Joao Felix moves with a lightness across the turf that suggests he knows he belongs and a dream €120million move to a European heavyweight probably still resides in his immediate future. However, he met with streetwise Swiss defenders more than happy to dish out some doses of reality.

Remo Freuler swiped the ball off his twinkling toes early on, while an attempt to enter the penalty area by lifting it over Fabian Schar resulted in the Newcastle United defender slamming the door in his face.

It was another once sought-after teen – now 27 and aware that the big moves to the super clubs are not necessarily all sunshine and roses – who stood out in an enterprising Switzerland display.

Xherdan Shaqiri forced Rui Patricio into a sharp reaction save on his side's first attack and his educated left foot dealt out plenty of lessons to a Portugal team whose disjointed 4-4-2 diamond shape smacked of last-minute revision.

If only Haris Seferovic had brought the form that saw him pilfer 23 Primeira Liga goals for Benfica this season up to Portugal's second city. The striker hit a Shaqiri cross into the turf and against the top of the crossbar in the 42nd minute, having passed up two other inviting chances.

When these sides were paired together in qualification for the 2018 World Cup, winning a game apiece, Portugal conceded four goals in the whole campaign. On Wednesday they could arguably have let in four by half-time.

At that stage they led because Ronaldo launched one of those fizzing rockets from a free-kick he engineered himself. Sommer's defensive wall disintegrated and his net rippled.

Before the break, Ronaldo had started to rove deeper and out to the wing. One dazzling piece of skill left Kevin Mbabu sprawling, while a wonderful lofted ball represented a possible torch-passing moment. Joao Felix lifted his shot tamely over.

This will hurt for a Switzerland side, whose aversion to knockout victories remains. They were again the better side after the resumption. Their controversial VAR penalty – Ricardo Rodriguez converting after Nelson Semedo was adjudged to have impeded Steven Zuber – was another opening created by Shaqiri, playing with a spring in his step and a Champions League medal in his pocket.

Vladimir Petkovic's men left an undulating contest in the balance, which meant it was Ronaldo o'clock. Every element of the game-breaking goal, from Ruben Neves' searching pass to Bernardo Silva's silken first touch and a laser-guided finish was majestic.

Neves and Silva will shine for Portugal when the 34-year-old Ronaldo finally leaves the centre stage he adores. As will Joao Felix, who was looking on from the bench by the time the trademark stepover came out and a solo effort was thrashed into Sommer's bottom corner.

Portugal's next generation will get much better. And time is on their side, because the main man is going absolutely nowhere just yet.

A stunning hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo fired Portugal into the final of the Nations League with a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in Porto.

A closely fought contest at Estadio do Dragao was settled by the individual brilliance of the host nation's captain, who opened the scoring in the first half before striking twice in two minutes just as extra time looked likely.

Switzerland looked the better team for long spells and deservedly drew level after half-time thanks to Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty, which was awarded in remarkable circumstances after a Portugal spot-kick was overturned by VAR.

But Ronaldo ensured Portugal will contest the final of this inaugural competition against either England or Netherlands on Sunday thanks to two stunning pieces of finishing in the closing moments.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic each missed presentable openings as Switzerland started the stronger.

They were made to rue those misses 25 minutes in. Ronaldo, having won a free-kick thanks to a robust challenge from Kevin Mbabu, fired the ball past a messy wall and into the bottom-right corner beyond the static Yann Sommer.

There was a further chance for Seferovic, whose half-volley from Mbabu's cross clipped the crossbar, and Joao Felix spurned an opportunity to mark his debut with a goal when Ronaldo played him through.

Switzerland drew level 12 minutes after the restart, though - and in extraordinary fashion.

Portugal were awarded a penalty after Bernardo Silva was clearly fouled by Fabian Schar, but referee Felix Brych overturned the decision and awarded a spot-kick to Switzerland as, earlier in the same passage of play, Nelson Semedo made the slightest of contact with Steven Zuber and tripped him in the box. Rodriguez dispatched the ball from 12 yards despite Rui Patricio's best efforts.

There was a further blow to Portugal when Pepe went off with an arm injury, and Switzerland began to look the most likely to snatch a winner, with Shaqiri causing particular problems and Mbabu setting up chances for Zuber and Renato Steffen.

But Ronaldo came to his side's aid when it mattered most. He struck his second goal with a low first-time finish from a Silva cut-back, and he added a third in the 90th minute, racing into the penalty area, bamboozling Manuel Akanji and rifling past Sommer.

Joao Felix will make his Portugal debut in Wednesday's Nations League Finals semi-final against Switzerland in Porto after head coach Fernando Santos rolled out his attacking big guns.

The Benfica teenager enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2018-19 and became one of the hottest properties in European football, with a host of clubs including Manchester City and Manchester United reportedly tempted to trigger his €120million release clause.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva complete a mouth-watering front three for the hosts, while Sporting CP's prolific Bruno Fernandes starts in a midfield anchored by Ruben Neves and William Carvalho.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka and Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri both start for Switzerland following their contrasting experiences in the finals of the Europa League and Champions League over the past week.

The winners will return to Estadio do Dragao on Sunday to face the victors of Thursday's semi-final between England and Netherlands in Guimaraes.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos will have no hesitation over throwing Benfica sensation Joao Felix into action in the Nations League Finals.

The uncapped 19-year-old was the headline selection in Santos' 23-man squad for the finale of the inaugural UEFA competition.

Joao Felix enjoyed a breakout season as Benfica claimed their 37th Portuguese league title, scoring 15 times over the course of 26 top-flight appearances.

A host of Europe's clubs have been linked with triggering his €120million release clause as a result.

Portugal were somewhat shot shy in their back-to-back Euro 2020 qualification draws against Serbia and Ukraine in May and Santos backed Joao Felix to shine if called upon for Wednesday's semi-final against Switzerland at Estadio do Dragao.

"If he wasn't ready he wouldn't be called up," the veteran tactician told a pre-match news conference. "Regardless of age we assess capabilities.

"So, if he was selected and is part of this team and others were left out that is because he is ready to play.

"He's been called up for a reason. We need to call up players who can contribute. He has great qualities."

Santos is not averse to adopting a confrontational tone when facing the media and he bridled at the suggestion that a new generation featuring the likes of Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix represented an exceptional crop of talent.

"Since when has Portugal not been able to produce talents? Just look at the last 20 years - we've always done it," he said. "Portugal has always had many talents. 

"The players are different, but if you want to win you have to make everything compatible. It was always like this. We make of the past something that did not exist. 

"We want to pass on the idea that in the past we had no talent."

In a prolonged exchange, during which Santos gestured in the direction of Joao Pinto – the former Portugal forward, who is now a member of the national team backroom staff and was observing the briefing – to make his point, the 64-year-old recalled previous selection dilemmas.

"At the 2004 European Championships there was doubt whether they would play Deco or Rui Costa would play, and we had Luís Figo and Cristiano," he added. 

"It's up to me to have 20 high-quality outfield players and they are all fit to play for the main team."

Manchester City's player of the season Silva could be one of Portugal's stars of the tournament if he maintains his club form, although the playmaker is taking nothing for granted.

"There’s no undisputed starters in this team," he said. "There're 23 players called up, all 23 have the ability to contribute and to give their own qualities to this national team and that's why they're here - to help us win this competition.

"Of course having a great season at club level has given me confidence coming into the national side, and it would be brilliant to finish this season with a title with Portugal, too."

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