Portugal boss Fernando Santos is worried by the number of goals his side have conceded in recent games.

The Selecao claimed a 3-1 win over nine-man Qatar in Saturday's friendly to make it back-to-back victories since exiting Euro 2020 to Belgium at the last-16 stage.

Santos made 11 changes on the back of the late 2-1 victory over Republic of Ireland and Portugal took time to get going against World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar.

However, quickfire goals from Andre Silva and debutant Otavio put Portugal in control at half-time, at which point Qatar were a player short after Meshaal Barsham was dismissed.

Portugal switched off in the second period and gave their opponents a route back into the game when Abdelkarim Hassan headed in unmarked.

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty late on to seal the win for the 2016 European champions, but Santos was not entirely pleased with his much-changed side's performance.

"In the first 15 minutes, we were good in terms of our defensive organisation," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"When Qatar were looking to attack from behind, we were good. We never let Qatar create, we stole a lot of balls and with clear situations of being able to score on the counter.

"But in ball circulation, we were very slow and a lot of passes went astray, which allowed Qatar to create two or three opportunities on the counter-attack. 

"They have very fast players up front. In the first 15 minutes, in terms of scoring opportunities, we ended up being equal. 

"After those 15 minutes, the possibility for them to counter-attack ended, the team began to circulate in a different way, creating situations with lots of security. 

"We pressed very well, made it 2-0 and it could have been more.

"We were still good in the first 10 minutes of the second half. But we disconnected a little and let the opponent pick up the ball and they scored, meaning we couldn't relax."

Portugal, who required a couple of late headers from Cristiano Ronaldo to overcome Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, have now conceded nine goals in their last five matches.

That follows on from a run of three games in a row without conceding earlier this year.

"A team that concedes nine goals in five games is worrying," Santos added. "There are things we have always done very well and one of them is defensive set-pieces.

"It was very rare for us to concede goals like that, but now we do. I've already alerted the players to that. Just this morning we spent time working on set-pieces."

Brazilian-born Otavio obtained Portuguese citizenship in March and marked his first appearance for the Selecao with a goal.

He scored from one of his two shots on target and also played a joint-high three key passes, which was matched by Fernandes despite the midfielder only playing 30 minutes.

Asked what he made of Otavio's display, Santos said: "He was part of the group of players that did well for 30 minutes."

Portugal switch focus back to their World Cup qualifying Group A campaign with a trip to Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka has tested positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Switzerland.

The Swiss team confirmed on Wednesday that the midfielder – who was sent off in Arsenal's 5-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City last weekend – was in isolation after returning a positive PCR test result.

Xhaka, who is Switzerland's captain, showed symptoms early on Wednesday, ahead of his country's friendly against Greece,

An initial test came back negative, but a subsequent PCR test confirmed a positive result. Xhaka will have another test on Thursday.

It was confirmed he had no contact with his team-mates throughout Wednesday and the team doctor deemed no further measures had to be taken as all the other players were either all vaccinated or had previously had COVID-19 and recovered, though a member of staff had to go into quarantine.

Xhaka impressed for Switzerland at Euro 2020 but has failed to bring that form into the Premier League season, with Arsenal losing all three of their games so far.

Mikel Arteta's side sit bottom of the table heading into the clash with Norwich City following the international break, though regardless of Xhaka's mandatory quarantine period, the midfielder is facing a three-match suspension so will not be involved.

Cristiano Ronaldo will play in all three of Portugal's fixtures during the international break following his return to Manchester United, head coach Fernando Santos said.

Ronaldo completed his United comeback on Tuesday, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner re-joining the Red Devils from Juventus for a second spell following his successful first stint at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009.

Amid the hype in Manchester, Ronaldo's attention has swiftly turned to matters with Portugal as Santos' men prepare to face Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.

Portugal will also meet Qatar in a friendly on Saturday before resuming their road to Qatar 2022 against Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

As Ronaldo stands on the cusp of breaking his tie with Ali Daei for the most international goals in men's football (109), Santos confirmed the 36-year-old's availability.

"I am interested in [Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes'] motivation while playing for the national team. You're a British journalist, you can ask them about Manchester United when they are back at their club," Santos told reporters.

"For me, the important thing is that they will be focused on the national team. I can say that they are motivated for the three matches we have ahead of us.

"There is no doubt that Ronaldo and all the players are able to play against Ireland. I understand all the attention we get because of him. He is going to play in three matches.

"We will have to manage some things, mostly in the second match, we will have to manage things. It will not be easy for the players to play three matches in seven days.

"We have to manage them across all the games, but mostly the second. It is always important because it is a national team match."

Formerly a dazzling winger but now a penalty-box poacher, Ronaldo has netted 674 times across 895 club games in all competitions, averaging a goal every 108 minutes.

Those 674 goals break down into 122 with his supposedly weaker left foot, 110 with his head and 440 with his favoured right boot.

Following his arrival as a fresh-faced teenager from Sporting in 2003, he scored 118 times for United across 292 appearances before his departure in 2009.

Between his entrance on the Premier League stage and his final appearance in May 2009, Frank Lampard (131) and Thierry Henry (124) are the only two to have a hand in more English top-flight goals than Ronaldo (118) – Henry (92) the only one to outscore Ronaldo's 84.

Ronaldo is a five-time winner of the Champions League, leading the all-time scoring charts with 134 goals in 176 games – 14 ahead of second place, and eternal rival, Lionel Messi.

Wales caretaker boss Rob Page insists Gareth Bale still has the hunger and desire to play for his country after including the player in his squad for the upcoming international break.

Page's side face Finland in a friendly on September 1, before resuming their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a double-header against Belarus and Estonia.

Speculation surrounded Bale's international future following the Dragons' exit from Euro 2020 at the hands of Denmark.

However, the Real Madrid forward, who has 96 caps to his name, could edge closer to becoming Wales' second centurion after being selected by Page.

Bale, who spent last season on loan at Tottenham, has started twice this season under new Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti, scoring in Sunday's 3-3 draw at Levante.

And Page is confident his talisman has "got the bug back" for football.

 

"It's great news. You want all your players playing competitive football when they come to the camp," Page told Sky Sports News.

"To get any of your players playing week in, week out is a bonus.

"But when you've got Gareth playing now and finding he's got the bug back again, which I saw in some of his performances for Tottenham at the back end of last season, is great news for us.

"He's got a hunger to play week in, week out for his club and he's got an absolute hunger and desire to play for Wales.

"As long as I can see that in his performances then there's going to be no issues whatsoever."

Mexico fired a blank as El Tri were held to a 0-0 draw by Honduras ahead of the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Tata Martino's Mexico were taking to the field for the first time since their thrilling 3-2 extra-time defeat to rivals the United States in the inaugural Nations League final last week.

Saturday's international friendly served as preparation for the Gold Cup, which gets underway in the USA on July 10.

Mexico are the defending champions, but they have work to do following their goalless draw with Honduras in front of a huge crowd in Atlanta.

With more than 70,000 fans in attendance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Mexico had the two best chances of the match.

Carlos Rodriguez rattled the crossbar with a powerful strike in the 30th minute, while Uriel Antuna found himself unmarked in the second minute of stoppage time but saw his header sail wide.

Mexico will face Panama (June 30) and Nigeria (July 3) before opening their Gold Cup campaign on July 10.

El Tri have been drawn in Group A, alongside El Salvador and Curacao, with Mexico also set to face the winner of the preliminary match.

Diego Llorente is set to return to Spain's training camp on Friday after returning a negative test for coronavirus.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said the Leeds United defender had become the second player in camp to test positive for COVID-19 ahead of their Euro 2020 opener, with captain Sergio Busquets the first to have done so.

Llorente was removed from the team's base and was due to begin 10 days of self-isolation in line with COVID-19 health protocols.

However, a statement from the RFEF said a follow-up test undertaken on Wednesday came back negative, and that there are indications of a "false positive" from the original test.

Llorente will undergo further tests on Thursday and Friday and will be allowed to return to camp if both come back negative.

Busquets' positive result plunged Spain's preparations for their Group E opener against Sweden on Monday into chaos, with group training suspended and all members of the squad preparing individually.

It meant Spain's U-21 squad was drafted in for Tuesday's 4-0 win over Lithuania, a match that was supposed to be the main team's final warm-up for the rearranged tournament.

A 17-man parallel squad remains in place at Spain's base should any further replacements be needed.

A youthful United States side had no trouble with Costa Rica on Wednesday, rolling to a 4-0 friendly victory at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. 

USA head coach Gregg Berhalter made nine changes from the side that defeated Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League final on Sunday, naming a starting XI with an average age of 23 years, 278 days. 

With stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie resting on the bench, two USA players scored their first international goals in a match that was never in doubt. 

Brenden Aaronson opened the scoring after eight minutes, rushing into the area to drive a rebound past Leonel Moreira after Daryl Dike's shot attempt was blocked by a Costa Rica defender. 

Three minutes before the interval, Dike slipped behind the Costa Rica defense and eased a shot past the onrushing Moreira for his first international goal and a 2-0 USA lead at the break. 

Early in the second half, Reggie Cannon opened his international account as well, slotting home a left-footed shot after intercepting a careless Costa Rica pass. 

Moments after coming on as a substitute in the 75th minute, 18-year-old Gio Reyna drew a penalty on a foul by Keysher Fuller in the box and converted for his fourth USA goal. 

Ethan Horvath got the start in goal for the USA on his 26th birthday after his stunning 120th-minute penalty save on Mexico's Andres Guardado on Sunday and turned in a clean sheet. 

Costa Rica are now winless in their last 11 matches (2D, 9L) dating to a 2-1 victory over Curacao in November 2019. 

Portugal boss Fernando Santos insisted his side have "many things to improve" despite securing a 4-0 win over Israel in their final pre-Euros warm-up game.

Bruno Fernandes got on the scoresheet either side of Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo strikes as the defending champions prepared for this summer's tournament with an emphatic win.

But, speaking after full-time, Santos shared concerns over elements of the performance, including a lull during the first half.

“The first part, not being extraordinary, was good," he told RTP.

"We did very well in the first 20 minutes, with great intensity in the various moments of play, circulating the ball well and looking for the flanks. 

"Then we had a quarter of an hour with less [urgency], but we accelerated towards the end and ended up scoring two goals."

The 66-year-old went on to reveal that he tried out a new tactical approach in the second period at Jose Alvalade Stadium.

But, while he didn't feel that his changes worked particularly well, the veteran boss struck a positive note ahead of Portugal's defence of their title starting against Hungary next Tuesday.

He added: "In the second I changed things a little, I tried to put one more man next to Ronaldo and two midfielders coming in from the inside, but it didn't work. 

"We started to miss a lot of passes and the ball circulation was not so good. There are many things to improve, certainly. 

"Now let's rest and calmly prepare for the Euros. This team has a huge will and an excellent team spirit."

Portugal warmed up for the start of the European Championship with a convincing 4-0 win over Israel.

In their final friendly game before the delayed tournament gets under way, Fernando Santos' side sent out a warning to their rivals with a dominant performance.

Bruno Fernandes was on target with a double, while there were also goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo to give Portugal a boost ahead of a Group F campaign that will see them face world champions France and Germany.

The Portuguese were at it from the first whistle, with Ronaldo producing an uncharacteristically weak shot after working space in the box less than a minute after kick-off.

And Diogo Jota was equally wasteful in powering a left-footed effort wide from a similar position before heading over a Cancelo cross shortly after.

But the hosts had their breakthrough just before half-time, Fernandes controlling Cancelo's low cut-back into the bottom-left corner.

The Manchester United man then turned provider, playing Ronaldo in behind for a powerful finish that squeezed through Israel goalkeeper Ofir Marciano to give the hosts a deserved 2-0 half-time lead.

Santos' men should have been three clear on the hour mark but Bernardo Silva fluffed his lines in attempting a dinked finish after being played in by Ronaldo.

However, Cancelo capped a good night for the hosts in the 87th minute as he cut inside off the right before powering a low left-footed shot home.

And Fernandes added deserved gloss to the scoreline with a wonderful strike from long range in injury time that left Marciano rooted to the spot.

What does it mean? Portugal in with a shout

Amid all the hype around the likes of England, France and Belgium, Portugal seem to be consistently overlooked as potential winners of this year's European Championship.

But the defending champions have a fine mix of experience and youth, the guaranteed goals of Ronaldo, and plenty of tournament know-how from 2016.

As they proved in dominating Israel here, they will be a force to be reckoned with in defending their crown.

Cancelo brings club form

Portugal aren't short of quality in forward areas but, if any opponent manages to somehow shut that down, it is good for the manager to know he has threats elsewhere on the pitch.

As he proved here, right-back Cancelo is one of them, the Manchester City man grabbing a goal and an assist as well as laying on three key passes.

Jota place under pressure

A two-game goalless run in a Portugal shirt hardly counts as a drought, but Jota will know he cannot waste chances as he did on Wednesday and hope to keep his place during the Euros.

The Liverpool forward failed to find the target with two big opportunities in his 45 minutes on the pitch and, with the likes of Joao Felix, Goncalo Guedes and Andre Silva behind him in the pecking order, is by no means a guaranteed starter.

What's next? 

Portugal get the defence of their title under way against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday. Israel, meanwhile, are without a competitive game until World Cup qualifying resumes in September.

France head coach Didier Deschamps confirmed Karim Benzema suffered a "knock" that will require further assessment after the world champions finalised their Euro 2020 preparations.

Benzema was withdrawn during the first half of France's 3-0 victory over Bulgaria, having fallen awkwardly after challenging for a header in the pre-Euros warm-up fixture on Tuesday.

With France's opening game at the rescheduled European Championship just a week away – against Germany on June 15 – the sight of Benzema limping from the field represents a major worry for France.

But Deschamps gave little away in his assessment of the blow, telling TF1: "It's a knock on the knee, which also affects the muscle. He felt he was getting stiff so he asked to be subbed.

"The medical staff are taking care of him."

The good news for France is that they have a ready-made replacement for Benzema in Olivier Giroud, who led the line during their victorious 2018 World Cup campaign.

Giroud netted the 45th and 46th goals of his international career late in the second half to move within five of all-time top scorer Thierry Henry's 51 – all despite Deschamps not expecting to use him much against Bulgaria.

"Taking into account the situation in which he arrived, psychologically and especially physically, I had planned to bring him in for less time," Deschamps added.

"He's still a scorer, with a foolproof mind. I'm not going to complain, and the squad will need it too. We will need all our strength. He is part of it too, [that's] good for him and the France team. 

"I think he has played more tonight than the last three months combined."

 

France earned a 3-0 victory over Bulgaria in their final warm-up game ahead of Euro 2020 but face a nervous wait on Karim Benzema after his withdrawal through injury.

Antoine Griezmann's deflected overhead kick gave the world champions the lead just before the half-hour mark and substitute Olivier Giroud wrapped things up with two close-range finishes late on.

But it is the first-half loss of Benzema to what appeared to be a thigh problem that will dominate manager Didier Deschamps' thoughts in the aftermath.

Recently recalled after a six-year exile from the national team, the Real Madrid forward looked lively prior to his early departure, setting up Kylian Mbappe for a powerful shot that was well saved by Daniel Naumov.

Unfortunately for the Bulgaria goalkeeper, there was nothing he could do about an acrobatic effort from Griezmann shortly after, which took a nick off Ivaylo Chochev before hitting the back of the net.

Only more Naumov brilliance stopped Griezmann from doubling his tally before the break after a flowing team move, and he was also sharp in keeping out an Mbappe effort after the restart.

But the latter should have done better than to drag a shot wide when played in one-v-one by Paul Pogba soon after.

Given the low-stakes nature of the fixture, it was no surprise France's dominance led to some understandable complacency, and they were handed a huge let-off when Birsent Karagaren shot wide after finding space in the area.

However, the win was effectively secured eight minutes from time when Giroud produced a trademark front-post finish from a delicious Benjamin Pavard cross.

And the Chelsea forward was at it again in the final minute of normal time, tapping in an unmissable low ball across the box from fellow substitute Wissam Ben Yedder.

What does it mean? Benzema injury takes shine off

After taking a stunning gamble in recalling Benzema to his squad, Deschamps will now be praying that injury does not deny him the chance to make a big contribution at the Euros.

The 33-year-old did not appear overly concerned by what looked on first viewing to be a dead leg but that won't stop his manager worrying ahead of a likely scan on the issue.

Griezmann shines

He may have endured a forgettable season at club level with Barcelona, but Griezmann is primed to shine again for France at a major tournament.

As well as scoring the opener in impressive fashion here, the 30-year-old took three shots, laid on one key pass, and provided six crosses in a showing full of promise.

Mbappe blank no concern

A striker of Mbappe's class is never pleased to draw a blank, particularly in a game featuring so many France chances.

But his six shots, four of which found the target, and five key passes suggest he is in line for a big say in the Euros.

What's next?

France kick off their European Championship campaign with a mouthwatering group-stage clash with Germany in Munich in seven days' time. Having failed to qualify for the competition, Bulgaria must wait for the resumption of World Cup qualifying for their next outing.

Spain's youngsters had no problems cruising to a straightforward 4-0 win over Lithuania on Tuesday as the Under-21s filled in for the senior side's final pre-Euro 2020 warm-up match due to coronavirus protocols.

Sergio Busquets' positive COVID-19 test on Sunday threw Spain's European Championship preparations into disarray as the situation forced the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to promote their entire Under-21s side, though La Rojita took their opportunity to impress.

Spain quickly showed they were a cut above Lithuania and opened the scoring inside three minutes, Hugo Guillamon slamming home from 16 yards after Manu Garcia's low cross was deflected back towards the edge of the box.

It was 2-0 with less than half an hour played when Brahim Diaz drilled across goal after being afforded a lot of space in the box following an incisive pass from Gonzalo Villar.

Lithuania were fortunate not to concede further goals before the break, as Tomas Svedkauskas saved Abel Ruiz's feeble penalty after Markas Beneta wrestled Bryan Gil – the only Spain player with a prior senior cap – to the ground, while the goalkeeper also denied Oscar Mingueza from point-blank range.

Half-time substitute Juan Miranda took just seven minutes to get his name on the scoresheet, with Svedkauskas only able to tip the Real Betis left-back's free-kick against the inside of the post and in.

Javi Puado, another introduced from the bench, made it 4-0 with 18 minutes to go as he latched on to Bryan's incisive chipped pass, skipped past a defender and blasted beyond Svedkauskas.

Although Spain could not match the 5-0 win they recorded over Lithuania back in 1993, their Under-21s at least showed they have plenty of talent in reserve should they be needed in the Euros.
 

England boss Gareth Southgate has hit back at suggestions he and his players should "stick to football" amid debate over their decision to take the knee before games.

The Three Lions' squad and staff have shown their support for the global movement to eradicate racism by kneeling prior to recent fixtures.

However, boos and jeers were heard from sections of the crowd when England offered up the gesture prior to European Championship warm-up games against Romania and Austria.

That backlash has prompted a debate over whether Southgate and his squad should be supporting a movement that is considered political in some quarters.

But the England manager pushed back on that idea in a stirring pre-tournament column for the Players' Tribune.

He wrote: "Our players are role models. And, beyond the confines of the pitch, we must recognise the impact they can have on society. 

"We must give them the confidence to stand up for their teammates and the things that matter to them as people.

"I have never believed that we should just stick to football.

"I know my voice carries weight, not because of who I am but because of the position that I hold. At home, I'm below the kids and the dogs in the pecking order but publicly I am the England men's football team manager. I have a responsibility to the wider community to use my voice, and so do the players.

"It's their duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate."

The topic of abuse on social media – particularly racial abuse – has also been widely discussed in the aftermath of a recent uptick in such incidents.

Southgate admits he does not understand why his high-profile players engage with such platforms but remains certain that those who troll them are on the "losing side" of the battle.

"Social media has been a key resource in giving our players a platform and has been a positive tool in so many ways," he added.

"In fact, I feel like this generation of England players is closer to the supporters than they have been for decades. Despite the polarisation we see in society, these lads are on the same wavelength as you on many issues.

"That said, there are times when my parental instincts kick in. I can't help it. After all, I'm old enough to be a father to most of my players!

"I see players scrolling on their phones straight after the final whistle and I think … Hmmm, is that a particularly good idea? 

"Reading abusive comments on Twitter or Instagram is never going to help performance. 

"There are genuine risks for our players online and I will always want to protect them, but I would never put rules on how or when they use their accounts while on England duty. I trust them and know they are mature enough to make their own decisions, to do what's right for their mental health and to keep being a force for good as we strive for a better society.

"The last 18 months have put added pressure on everyone, I know. Venting that might have taken place while walking out of the stadium, or in the pub has been transferred online. I get that. However, there are things I will never understand.

"Why would you tag someone in on a conversation that is abusive? 

"Why would you choose to insult somebody for something as ridiculous as the colour of their skin?

"Why?

"Unfortunately for those people that engage in that kind of behaviour, I have some bad news. You're on the losing side. It's clear to me that we are heading for a much more tolerant and understanding society, and I know our lads will be a big part of that.

"It might not feel like it at times, but it's true. The awareness around inequality and the discussions on race have gone to a different level in the last 12 months alone. 

"I am confident that young kids of today will grow up baffled by old attitudes and ways of thinking."

Romelu Lukaku was on target and Eden Hazard made a long-awaited international return as Belgium beat Croatia 1-0 in their final Euro 2020 warm-up game.

The impressive Lukaku struck in the first half at King Baudouin Stadium on Sunday to give the Red Devils a deserved victory.

Injury-blighted Hazard came off the bench late on to make his first Belgium appearance for 19 months, just six days before Roberto Martinez's side face Russia in their first match of the European Championship.

Zlatko Dalic's Croatia side lacked a cutting edge in Brussels a week prior to their opening game of Euro 2020 against England at Wembley.

Croatia started positively but the Red Devils started to look increasingly threatening, Nacer Chadli blazing over the crossbar from outside the penalty area.

Lukaku was proving a real handful and the striker rattled the post with a left-footed strike after turning sharply, with Yannick Carrasco heading against the crossbar following up.

Croatia were made to pay by Lukaku seven minutes before the break after some slack defending, the prolific Inter frontman drilling home with his right foot from six yards after Jason Denayer nodded the ball into his path.

Bruno Petkovic twice called Thibaut Courtois into action early in the second half as Croatia went in search of an equaliser.

Carrasco spurned a good opportunity to double the Red Devils' lead when he sliced wide and a Lukaku header deflected off target.

Croatia boss Dalic made a whole host of changes in the second half, but Belgium saw out the victory and Real Madrid man Hazard gave them another lift when he came on with nine minutes to go.

Hazard was given a short outing and Lukaku came close to a second goal when his close-range header was superbly kept out by Dominik Livakovic.

Josip Brekalo could have snatched a stoppage-time equaliser, but his shot was well saved by Courtois as Belgium held on for the win.

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