Cristiano Ronaldo's spat with South Korea's Cho Gue-sung frustrated Fernando Santos, who was unsure on reports surrounding the Portugal captain's future.

Ronaldo was involved in an exchange with Cho during his side's World Cup defeat to South Korea on Friday, where he appeared to get into a verbal tussle with his opponent as he was substituted.

The 37-year-old confirmed after the game that his frustrations had been with Cho, and not at Santos' decision to take him off.

While Santos has put the matter behind him ahead of Portugal's last-16 tie with Switzerland on Tuesday, he made it clear he was not impressed by Ronaldo's reaction.

"Did I see the images? I did," he said, in reference to footage of the incident. "Did I like it? Not at all. I really didn't like it at all.

"But from then on, these matters are resolved internally. From there, we think about the next game, for which everyone will be focused. The matter is over."

News emerged shortly before Santos' pre-match press conference that Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr were close to signing Ronaldo, who is a free agent after leaving Manchester United.

"I haven't spoken to him about this. I didn't know about this," Santos said.

"Someone only told me a few minutes ago. But that's his decision, and something that he has to deal with. We are focused on the World Cup and this team."

Ronaldo has scored only once in Qatar, converting a penalty he won in Portugal's 3-2 win over Ghana in their opening Group H match.

He became the first man to score at five different World Cups in the process, though he is yet to score in a knockout game in the competition.

Indeed, only Brazil great Roberto Carlos has had more attempts (29) without scoring in the knockout stages than Ronaldo (25) since 1966.

Fernando Santos has no issues with rotating his squad in Portugal's final Group H match against South Korea.

Portugal's place in the knockout stage of the World Cup was assured when they beat Uruguay 2-0 on Monday.

While top spot in the group is not secured ahead of the meeting with Korea at Education City Stadium, Portugal's goal difference (+3) puts them in prime position to go through as winners.

Santos suggested he will make the changes, but he believes utilising more of his 26-man squad is the only way his team will develop.

"We must continue to grow. To me the most important thing is the confidence I have in all of my players, I trust all of them," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

"We have at least three who will definitely play. As for the others, we will have to see.

"The players are in great shape, but we have begun to see fatigue, which can lead to injuries. We have another player who is somewhat fatigued and we'll have to look into that, but we also have to deal with the bookings we have got. 

"I'm very confident about who I'll be putting on the pitch. We have to understand for every match we have to make these decisions and I have to play the team I am most confident in regardless of previous results."

 

Asked if Ronaldo, who thought he had scored a 119th international goal when he tried to nudge home Bruno Fernandes' cross against Uruguay, would feature, Santos replied: "If he is well enough physically, he will be playing.

"I don't know if the chance is even 50-50, it depends on our training session. It depends if nothing happens and he will be able to play."

Winning the group would mean Portugal are likely to avoid a last-16 tie with Brazil, who look set to claim first place in Group G.

Santos is less concerned about the prospect of facing Brazil than he is about having fewer days in-between matches, however, as winning the group would mean Portugal play their last-16 match on Tuesday rather than Monday.

"At this stage, in terms of not running into Brazil – we're not really concerned about that at this point," Santos explained.

"When you come to a World Cup you strive to achieve something very important, so it's much more important to have at least 24 hours for the players to recover.

"I hope they will all be ready to play but if it's difficult to be in the best shape after four days, then after three days it's even more difficult."

It often feels like football works in cycles.

A few months beyond 20 years since a crunch group tie at the World Cup, South Korea and Portugal are ready to do it all again.

The Selecao are already through after two wins from two against Ghana and Uruguay, and barring a three-goal turnaround, their progression will come as group winners.

Head coach Fernando Santos could decide to rotate, but then again, perhaps the smell of revenge will be enough for him to go full strength once more.

The only previous meeting between South Korea and Portugal came at the 2002 World Cup, which South Korea won 1-0 on home soil in the final game of the group stage, a result that eliminated Portugal from the tournament.

This time it will be all or nothing for South Korea with only a win being enough, while also needing Uruguay to narrowly beat Ghana.

Paulo Bento's men have lost five of their last seven World Cup matches (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 16 (W5 D6), and are looking to win their third group game for just the third time at the tournament, previously doing so against Portugal in 2002, as mentioned, and in 2018 against Germany.

The first goal will be especially important as Portugal are yet to lose a match at the World Cup when they have scored first (P18 W15 D3), doing so without losing more than any other nation in tournament history.

 

Bento will not be present for the game after receiving a red card at the end of the 3-2 defeat to Ghana, furiously reacting to referee Anthony Taylor's decision to blow the full-time whistle after his team had won a corner.

"We shall continue to prepare in same way as other matches – our strategy will not fail," his assistant Sergio Costa said after that game. "He won't be present on the matchday, which is a loss because Paulo is obviously a great manager, but I think it will bring us together."

The irony being that Bento played for Portugal in that 2002 humiliation against South Korea. In fact it turned out to be his final game for the national side, before returning as head coach between 2010 and 2014.

Portugal, meanwhile, are looking to win all three group-stage matches for just a third time, also doing so in 1966 and 2006.

If Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. can do so while also ending South Korea's tournament, there will likely be a sense of payback to go with it.
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

South Korea – Son Heung-min

Son was always going to be the main man for his country, but so far the Tottenham attacker has been unable to show his true worth in Qatar.

He has been a generational talent for his country, though. Since the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Son has scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues than any other South Korea player (137).

Son also had the most shots (40), shots on target (19), scored the most goals (5) and created the most chances (27) of any player for South Korea during qualifying.

Portugal – Bruno Fernandes

While most eyes have been on Ronaldo, as ever, his former Manchester United team-mate has been the real MVP of the World Cup for his country so far.

Fernandes has been involved in four of Portugal's five goals (two goals, two assists), and is only the second player this century to have registered multiple goals and assists in a team's first two group-stage matches, after Karim Benzema for France in 2014.

He also created 21 chances in qualifying, more than any other Portuguese player.

PREDICTION

Portugal lack a desperate need for a result in terms of winning the group, and the Opta prediction model does not have them as overwhelming favourites, though Santos' men are still expected to win with a victory chance percentage of 58.4.

The draw, which like a Portugal win is of no use either to South Korea's hopes, is rated at 22.3 per cent, while that all important victory for the Taegeuk Warriors is given a 19.3 per cent chance.

Nuno Mendes looks set to miss the rest of the World Cup but will stay with Portugal in Qatar, coach Fernando Santos has announced.

The Paris Saint-Germain left-back seemed set to be an important member of the Portugal team in Qatar, but a thigh injury has scuppered hopes of being a fixture in the side.

Mendes was not involved in the opening 3-2 win against Ghana but started against Uruguay on Monday, only to be substituted just 42 minutes into that game and replaced by Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro.

He left the field in tears, and that seems likely to be his only involvement in the tournament, with Guerreiro the obvious choice to be Portugal's starter at left-back against South Korea on Friday and thereafter, with the team's place in the knockout stage secured.

The 20-year-old was also troubled by a thigh problem in the weeks leading up to the tournament but returned to the PSG starting line-up for two games before joining up with his national side.

Santos said: "He will continue to stay with us here in Qatar because that's what the players wanted. The club allowed him to come here because it was important to him.

"He wanted to stay here with us, this really reflects the spirit of the team and how united we all are.

"I feel sad about those who won't be able to play, but it has to encourage me and the other players, because we have to make up for those who aren't there."

A statement from the Portuguese federation, the FPF, read: "The international Nuno Mendes, after carrying out tests, was considered unavailable for the work of the national team by the health and performance unit of the FPF. 

"The player suffered a muscle injury in his left thigh during the game between Portugal and Uruguay. Nuno Mendes will remain part of the national delegation in Qatar, where he will begin the recovery work."

Bruno Fernandes claimed "I don't really think it matters" after being credited the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Uruguay to secure Portugal's World Cup last-16 place.

The Manchester United midfielder scored twice as Fernando Santos' side guaranteed their passage into the knockout stage with a match to spare after downing Uruguay at Lusail Stadium.

Portugal's opener was initially credited to Cristiano Ronaldo, who appeared to faintly glance home Fernandes' 54th-minute cross, but FIFA eventually intervened and awarded it to the latter.

Fernandes sealed the points from the penalty spot in the closing stages and is now focused on securing top spot in Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea on Friday.

"I don't really think it matters who scored the goal at this point," he said when asked about Portugal's first strike. "The feeling I had at the time was that Cristiano touched the ball. I was passing the ball to him.

"But what's important is that we were able to go on to the next round after a very important win against a tough opponent.

"The importance of being first [in Group H] includes winning the next game, which would allow us to come out of the group undefeated with three wins, and that's what we want.

"We know we will find a very well-organised [South Korea] team ahead of us. Our objective is to think match after match – to win all the ones in the group phase, we still have one ahead of us.

"We have to do our very best because we want to win all the matches."

Santos hopes Portugal can finish the job to top Group H, having won their opening two World Cup games for only the third time – also achieving the feat in 1966 and 2006 in runs to the semi-final stage.

The Portugal head coach saluted his players, while he also revealed that Nuno Mendes will be assessed in "24 hours" after limping off during the first half.

"All our team have a great performance," Santos said. "The game was difficult, our opponent was difficult.

"In the second half, we managed to play as we are used to; despite the fact that the Uruguayan players were playing very well.

"Our players responded with purpose, and we managed to win with fair play. We have a feeling of satisfaction as we can move to the next stage.

"[Two wins from two is] exactly what I wanted for my team. As I said back in Portugal, our team is very united, we have a very good team building, and now we are given the answers to what was asked of us.

"There is still a match to be played; we need to be careful with our considerations. We do want to be first [in Group H], but we are not first yet. As a result, we need to continue improving on our tactics."

Cristiano Ronaldo has the personality to handle any pressure that comes with being Portugal's leading man, says Fernando Santos.

Ronaldo, the record goalscorer in the history of international football, came into the World Cup with his future uncertain, after an inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan.

The 37-year-old has since left Manchester United and is playing as a free agent for the first time in his career.

Ronaldo scored Portugal's opener in their 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday, becoming the first male player to score at five separate World Cup finals in the process.

And Santos shrugged off the suggestion Portugal place too much pressure on their captain's shoulders.

"We have players that are more visible than others and they need to deal with that, with the high priority and pressure," Santos said in a press conference ahead of Portugal's second Group H game against Uruguay.

"They express themselves in one particular way. There are players who are more extroverted, those more introverted, the most important thing is they play as a group, play together as one team.

"As far as Cristiano is concerned, I've known him for many years, since he was 19, we have other players that share the same personality.

"Little by little he has gained more experience, and understands this pressure, but we also take into account other players, not only Cristiano Ronaldo."

Another experienced campaigner in Santos' squad is Ronaldo's former Real Madrid club-mate Pepe, with the 39-year-old centre-back potentially in line to feature against Uruguay after Danilo suffered an injury to his ribs in the win over Ghana.

"He's a monster, Pepe is a monster," Santos said of the defender. "Someone who has a huge role, there's no doubt."

Ronaldo started with Joao Felix in a front two against Ghana, though Santos also has Milan star Rafael Leao, who scored with his first touch after coming on a substitute, to call on.

Asked if he would consider starting the trio together, Santos replied: "Of course it's possible, we did not come here with labels of one, two or three starters.

"We will line them up according to our needs, I'm serious about it. We have choices, and no player will be excluded, but we should not address this with an individual perspective, but as a collective.

"That's what we did against Ghana. In the first half we played very well, Ghana could not enter our area. In the last 30 minutes we should have been more aggressive because I know my players are capable. We were perhaps overconfident, but we can be confident if we are more aggressive.

"Our advantage is that we have a plethora of players that we can use. Our players are free to play, the only thing that I ask them is to follow my instructions. We will not hold our players on a tight leash – we let them free."

Joao Felix backed Portugal to go all the way at the World Cup after Fernando Santos welcomed a selection headache following a 4-0 friendly thrashing of Nigeria.

Bruno Fernandes' first-half double, coupled with late strikes for Goncalo Ramos and Joao Mario, saw Santos' side to a comfortable triumph on Thursday before setting off for Qatar.

Atletico Madrid attacker Joao Felix did not manage to get on the scoresheet but impressed in Lisbon, with Santos noting a credible performance from the 23-year-old.

"He was one of the best, with some others. They were all better, nobody plays alone," the Portugal coach said.

"Joao played a good game too, at the level of what the others did. I have 26 players knocking on the door. Every day they knock on my door in training.

"They all knock on the door and they all have reasons to play. That's certainly good for the coach."

Joao Felix suggested he enjoys more attacking freedom for Portugal than Atletico Madrid, as he backed Santos' side for glory in Qatar, where they face Ghana in their Group H opener next Thursday.

"I have more freedom of movement with the national team because we are very mobile," he said. "I felt good and the team had a great game.

"I think we are prepared to win the World Cup. We looked for the goal and I helped the team, which is my mission as a striker. 

"The goals did not appear in this game, but they will happen in the World Cup."

Santos will also have to consider the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed the friendly victory due to "illness" as the aftermath of his scathing interview on Manchester United continues.

Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Portugal eased to a 4-0 victory over Nigeria in their sole World Cup warm-up game, despite missing captain Cristiano Ronaldo through illness.

Fernando Santos' side produced a dominant showing in Lisbon on Thursday amid the ongoing furore over the absent Ronaldo's scathing interview on Manchester United.

Fernandes' first-half double, the latter from the penalty spot, set Portugal on their way in their final outing ahead of Qatar, before Goncalo Ramos scored after Emmanuel Dennis missed a second-half spot-kick.

Joao Mario added a late fourth and Portugal will now turn their attention to next Thursday's Group H opener against Ghana as they aim to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in four tournaments.

Fernandes miscued an effort just wide in the opening stages but made amends after nine minutes as he turned home Diogo Dalot's cutback pass.

Joao Felix curled narrowly over before Bright Osayi-Samuel was adjudged to have handled inside the area, with Fernandes sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way with his spot-kick.

A host of half-time changes did little to alter Portugal's dominance, though Samuel Chukwueze forced a rare Rui Patricio save before Uzoho tipped over from Joao Felix.

The VAR deemed Dalot to have shoved Osayi-Samuel inside the area, though Patricio saved Dennis' penalty before Ramos sealed victory by tapping in Raphael Guerreiro's unselfish pass.

A simple Joao Felix offload teed up the final goal as Joao Mario prodded into an empty net.

What does it mean? Santos' side in cruise control ahead of Qatar

The ongoing controversy surrounding five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo could have easily derailed Portugal, though that did not prove the case in a routine win.

Santos' side dominated from the first minute without their talisman and will be confident of escaping Group H, which also includes Uruguay and South Korea.

However, the likes of Ghana and Uruguay – the latter with the likes of Federico Valverde, Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez – will prove much sterner tasks than Nigeria in Qatar.

Fernandes refutes Ronaldo deputy tag

All the talk in the build-up to the friendly surrounded Fernandes' United team-mate Ronaldo, though it was the midfielder who shone at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Fernandes has regularly played the backing role to Ronaldo at Old Trafford and Portugal, but offered a timely reminder of his qualities with two goals as well as misplacing just three of his 37 passes.

More from Miffi

While Portugal impressed without their star attacker, Nigeria were left wanting in their forward line as Terem Moffi failed to deliver.

The 23-year-old completed just six of his 11 passes and managed 15 touches – the fewest of any outfield starter – before his second-half removal.

What's next?

Portugal's curtain-raiser comes against Ghana in Doha, while Nigeria are not scheduled for action until facing Guinea-Bissau in Africa Cup of Nations qualification in March.

Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal's World Cup warm-up game against Nigeria on Thursday because of illness, according to head coach Fernando Santos.

The Portugal boss also dismissed concerns about Ronaldo's explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticised his club, Manchester United.

The player did not say anything derogatory about his national team, though he did receive a frosty reception from compatriot and United team-mate Bruno Fernandes when he arrived to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar, which begins on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference, Santos said: "Ronaldo has gastritis and did not train today in order to recover and rest. It's a condition that doesn't help much as it affects the players a lot, they lose a lot of liquid, they weaken. He won't be ready for tomorrow, for sure."

Santos also denied that it was an excuse for Ronaldo to stay out of the limelight while the media continues to discuss his comments about the likes of United boss Erik ten Hag and the general state of the club he rejoined last year.

"[Ronaldo] didn't have to inform us about the interview," Santos added. "Isn't he free [to make his decisions]?

"What I'm interested in is what is being spoken about in our camp and not what is being said outside. We have to respect his decision.

"We have to respect the interview he gave. It has nothing to do with the national team."

Portugal begin their World Cup campaign against Ghana on November 24, before also taking on Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.

 

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Renato Sanches has been left out of Portugal's World Cup squad, joining the country's second-most capped player Joao Moutinho in missing out on the trip to Qatar.

Sanches has won 32 senior caps for Portugal since his 2016 debut and was named Young Player of the Tournament as Portugal clinched their first major trophy at the European Championship in France that year.

However, since swapping Lille for Ligue 1 rivals PSG this August, Sanches has struggled for game-time, starting just three matches in all competitions and playing a total of 427 minutes.

Fellow PSG midfielders Marco Verratti, Vitinha, Danilo Pereira, Fabian Ruiz, Pablo Sarabia and Carlos Soler have all made more starts this campaign, leaving Sanches out of Fernando Santos' plans.

Sanches' PSG team-mates Vitinha, Pereira and Nuno Mendes have all been included in Portugal's squad for the tournament, where they will face Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea after being drawn into Group H.

Meanwhile, fellow midfielder Moutinho, whose tally of 146 Portugal caps is only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable total of 191, has been overlooked in favour of Wolves team-mates Ruben Neves and Matheus Nunes.

Despite enduring a frustrating season with Manchester United, Ronaldo will captain Portugal in Qatar, where he will bid to become the first player to score at five separate World Cups.

The 37-year-old is one of just four players to hit the net at four separate editions of the tournament, alongside Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.

However, all seven of Ronaldo's World Cup goals have arrived in the group stage, making him the highest scoring player in the tournament's history to fail to hit the net in the knockouts (in six such appearances).

Portugal squad: Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolves), Rui Patricio (Roma); Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund); Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Matheus Nunes (Wolves), Otavio (Porto), Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain), William Carvalho (Real Betis); Andre Silva (RB Leipzig), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Goncalo Ramos (Benfica), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafael Leao (Milan), Ricardo Horta (Braga).

Fernando Santos had no concerns around his future as Portugal coach after his team lost 1-0 to Spain and missed out on a place at the Nations League Finals.

Spain's dramatic victory came courtesy of Alvaro Morata's goal in the 88th minute, sending La Roja to next year's tournament instead of Portugal.

Having only needed a draw to advance, the late winner was of great frustration to Santos, but he would not entertain talk around his status as coach.

Informed of criticism and asked whether poor results would affect his position, Santos shot back: "Well, that's fine. But what should I answer? It doesn't pinch [impact] me at all.

"Do you want to be more direct or is that your question?

"My contract goes until 2024. I can't be more direct than that."

On the match, Santos added: "We cannot concede a goal in the last minutes. If we have to defend, we should give everything for it.

"Anyway, the players worked hard, and we still had a good opportunity, but we didn't make the most of it." 

Spain had five shots on target to Portugal's four, but all of those came after the 71st minute, with Santos' side paying for their earlier profligacy.

"If I would like to simplify, I would say that we had several opportunities and Spain only had a few," the coach said. "So it would be a matter of efficiency: we didn't score.

"We must look at the whole game. We are all very sad. We were convinced that we would reach the Nations League Finals. We are not there, so we are obviously sad.

"We must move on and identify what needs to be improved. We must address it in order to be on top form at the World Cup."

Portugal were not helped by Cristiano Ronaldo's failure to contribute in attack.

He has now not scored in his past three appearances for Portugal, and there are questions around his ability to carry the national team without consistent game time at Manchester United.

"I am only interested in the team's performance," Santos said. "Ronaldo had three or four chances, two of them very good.

"He normally scores [in these situations], but he didn't. It's football. We normally expect him to score, but he didn't."

Portugal boss Fernando Santos says his players cannot face any more pressure than they already weather, ahead of their Nations League crunch clash with Spain.

The Euro 2016 winners will play their neighbours in their last game in Group A2, with a two-point cushion ahead of Luis Enrique's side at the summit.

It means the winner will progress through to next year's finals, though a draw in Braga would be enough for the hosts to edge La Roja.

Ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup later this year, it presents a suitable high-pressure test for Santos and his side – but the 67-year-old says there can be no further weight upon what his squad already have to deal with.

"Three days ago, Portugal had to win the next two games because Spain would win their first," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"But even a draw would have been enough to come to the final match alive. That's absolutely normal. I just try to take this pressure out of my players. If they do what we have to do, we are closer to victory.

"Do you think we can have more pressure than we have already? These players have pressure everywhere they go. They always play to win, to be champions. We always play to win, we demand it.

"We can't have more pressure than that, right? That means we know how to deal with pressure, as we have been earning positive results."

Portugal leapfrogged Spain to top spot on Saturday after the former picked up a handy 4-0 win over the Czech Republic, while the latter slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Switzerland.

Santos is nevertheless anticipating a tough challenge, regardless of result, adding: "I expect a Spain just like they always are. They don't change a thing.

"Everyone knows Spain. They've played the same way for 20 years. It's a team of possession, pressure, one that reacts well to the loss of the ball. They have a clear matrix in the way they play.

"We don't have to be worried about Spain but we have to respect them, as we respect all opponents. We have to be focused on ourselves."

Cristiano Ronaldo's difficulties to secure regular Manchester United minutes will not impact his role with Portugal at the World Cup in Qatar, says national team coach Fernando Santos.

Ronaldo reportedly sought to force a move from Old Trafford during the off-season following a tough first-term homecoming at United, who missed out on Champions League qualification.

Since then, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner – alongside club captain and England defender Harry Maguire – has found himself a peripheral figure on the bench.

Under Erik ten Hag, a new-look United side have reversed their form from last season's slump, with Ronaldo limited to second-half cameos on a regular basis.

Ronaldo started Thursday's Europa League win over Sheriff, though, netting his first goal of the season after being announced as part of Portugal's latest Nations League squad.

Santos, who also handed a recall to Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix, remains unconcerned over a lack of game-time for the 37-year-old and feels his captain will still offer plenty over the coming months.

"I have absolutely no worries about Ronaldo's lack of playing time for Manchester United," the Portugal coach said. "As with any player I have to work out what the situation is with him.

"But I don't think anyone has any doubts that Ronaldo continues to be of great importance to the national team."

Pedro Neto and Tiago Djalo were also notable inclusions, with Diogo Jota keeping his place despite injury struggles at Liverpool, while the likes of Goncalo Guedes, David Carmo and Goncalo Inacio missed out.

"I started preparing a list with 55 names on it, and even so it was not easy, so imagine what it's like having to choose 26," Santos added. "It's very difficult, fortunately, for Portugal and for me.

"What would be bad would be having to select 26 but only having 20 or so players to choose from. It's a headache, but it's a good headache."

Renato Sanches and Otavio Monteiro were omitted due to injury as Portugal prepare for the Nations League, where they sit a point behind Group A2 leaders Spain with two games left to play.

Portugal squad: Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolves), Rui Patricio (Roma); Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Tiago Djalo (Lille), Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund); Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Matheus Nunes (Wolves), Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain), William Carvalho (Real Betis); Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Pedro Neto (Wolves), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafa Silva (Benfica), Rafael Leao (Milan), Ricardo Horta (Braga).

Fernando Santos questioned the referee's performance after Portugal suffered the first defeat of their Nations League campaign to Switzerland.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring after just 55 seconds in Geneva, the fastest goal in Nations League history and earliest Switzerland have scored since 1988.

Referee Fran Jovic awarded a penalty to Switzerland 13 minutes later for a handball against Nuno Mendes, but the VAR overruled the decision.

A clear foul on Andre Silva by Nico Elvedi on the halfway line was the reason, with the Portugal striker requiring brief medical treatment for the ankle injury suffered in the tackle.

Portugal were incensed at the original decision, surrounding Jovic at half-time, and tempers continued to boil over in the second half, with Bruno Fernandes confronting the Swiss bench at one point.

While Santos refused to directly criticise the referee's performance, he admitted his frustrations with Switzerland seemingly slowing down the game en route to a 1-0 victory.

"I'm not going to criticise, but when a penalty is awarded that doesn't happen just like that, when there's a clear foul in midfield... Then just look at the number of fouls and time lost," he told reporters. 

"The fourth official knows very well what happened in the game."

Santos was satisfied with the second-half improvement, even if Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin's heroics left Portugal a point behind group leaders Spain, who defeated Czech Republic on Sunday.

"At half-time, I was just saying that we have to have the ball and play differently and push them back," he added. 

"We started very well, in the first few minutes we wanted to put the ball very quickly on [Goncalo] Guedes. We knew opportunities would arise and many have arisen."

Portugal are not in action again until visiting Czech Republic in the Nations League on September 24.

Portugal suffered their first defeat of the Nations League campaign after Haris Seferovic scored the winner in a 1-0 victory for Switzerland in Geneva.

Switzerland had lost all three of their Group A2 fixtures, including a 4-0 hammering in the reverse fixture, but took the lead through Seferovic inside the first minute.

Fernando Santos' side were repeatedly denied by Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin in search of an equaliser, with the absence of the injured talisman Cristiano Ronaldo particularly noticeable for the visitors.

Defeat left Portugal a point behind Spain at the summit of the group, while Switzerland picked up their first win to move one point behind Czech Republic in third.

Switzerland raced out the blocks as Seferovic headed into the bottom-left corner from Silvan Widmer's right-wing cross after just 55 seconds – the fastest goal in Nations League history.

The hosts thought they had a penalty 13 minutes later for a Nuno Mendes handball, but a lengthy VAR check ruled the spot-kick out for an earlier Nico Elvedi foul on Andre Silva.

Omlin kept his side ahead by denying a close-range Danilo Pereira header, before Rafael Leao headed home shortly after, only to be ruled out for offside.

Omlin also stopped a low Andre Silva drive after the interval, while Remo Freuler drilled just wide at the other end.

Seferovic almost extended Switzerland's lead but arrowed narrowly off target on a rapid counter-attack before Omlin beat away a swerving Bernardo Silva long-range strike.

The Montpellier stopper carried on his fantastic performance by pushing away a sliding Goncalo Guedes effort and a low Diogo Jota header as Switzerland held on for victory.

What does it mean? Portugal's top-spot hopes dented

Portugal were arguably fortunate to snatch a draw in their Nations League opener with Spain, but then recorded convincing victories over Switzerland and Czech Republic.

However, they came unstuck in Geneva and were largely off the pace, handing Spain the advantage in Group A2.

With only one team progressing, Portugal may end up needing to beat Spain on the final matchday in September.

Swift Seferovic

Not only was Seferovic's smart flick to open the scoring the fastest goal in Nations League history, but it was also Switzerland's earliest goal since 1988.

The striker became the first Swiss player to score in the first minute of a game in 34 years, since Alain Sutter managed to do so in World Cup qualifying against Luxembourg.

Sorry Silva

Andre Silva was tasked with leading the line in the absence of Ronaldo, but failed to leave his mark against Elvedi and Manuel Akanji.

The RB Leipzig striker was caught offside on a game-high two occasions, the first in the build-up to Leao's disallowed header, and made just 15 passes all match.

What's next?

Portugal are not in action until a Nations League away clash at Czech Republic on September 24, when Switzerland also visit Spain.

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