Home Sport Nations League: Dias’ double-strike puts Portugal through

Nations League: Dias’ double-strike puts Portugal through

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Mateo Kovacic fired Croatia into a 32nd-minute lead but Ruben Dias and Joao Felix turned the tide.

Portugal’s Ruben Dias celebrates after scoring against Croatia during their UEFA Nations League group 3 soccer match held at Poljud Stadium in Split, Croatia on Tuesday. Picture: EPA, Paulo Novais

SPLIT – Portugal’s Ruben Dias scored his first two international goals to help the European champions to a 3-2 win at 10-man Croatia in their Nations League clash on Tuesday, stretching their unbeaten run against the hosts to seven games.

The result left outgoing holders Portugal second in League A, Group 3 on 13 points from six games, three behind world champions France, who beat Sweden 4-2 at home having previously wrapped up their final-four berth in the competition.

Croatia finished third on three points, ahead of bottom team Sweden on goal difference, and avoided relegation from the Nations League top tier although the defeat is likely to pile more pressure on coach Zlatko Dalic.

Mateo Kovacic fired Croatia into a 32nd-minute lead but Dias and Joao Felix turned the tide after the home side had Marko Rog sent off in the 51st for two yellow cards, the second brandished for a crunching foul on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Kovacic levelled with a superb first-time shot from the edge of the penalty area midway through the second half but Dias had the last laugh in the 90th minute when he capitalised on a blunder by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

Reuters