Santos felt Portugal deserved draw that secured Nations League progression
Portugal have reached the Nations League finals.
Portugal boss Fernando Santos felt his side deserved the point in Italy which earned them qualification for the Nations League finals.
Santos’ side were without Cristiano Ronaldo again but they got the job done at San Siro to finish top of Group A3 ahead of Italy and relegated Poland.
“It is a fair result because, from a moment in the second half, Portugal were better,” Santos told a press conference after his side had struggled to contain Italy before the break.
“In the first, with the moves in the midfield, Italy managed to win many second balls.
“(Lorenzo) Insigne’s movements inside created a lot of problems. (Joao) Cancelo did not always close the game well and that caused Ruben Neves to go too low, leaving Pizzi and William (Carvalho) in two-on-three situations.
“We realised what was happening and we improved, the suffocation was over. The game was balanced, we were growing and we managed to withdraw. We were forced to play behind the ball and we were improving.”
For all Italy’s dominance of possession, particularly in the first half, they rarely threatened Rui Patricio in Portugal’s goal.
The Wolves goalkeeper twice denied Ciro Immobile before the break and was alert to Lorenzo Pellegrini’s stoppage-time header.
Portugal’s best chance fell to Carvalho’s low shot, which Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma turned away for a corner with a brilliant one-handed save.
Italy head coach Roberto Mancini insists his young side continue to progress, despite their troubles in the final third.
“What matters most in football is scoring goals,” he said. “The decline in the second half was due to us getting tired physically. We must improve in terms of taking our chances.
“I consider this match to be a step forward. I would still do the same as I did in the first match because it was an opportunity for our young players to gain experience.”
Skipper Giorgio Chiellini agreed his side faded towards the end as he looked back on his 100th appearance for his country.
“A special evening,” he added. “Milan is always there for us. In the final 30 minutes we played more with our hearts than with our heads, meaning we risked conceding too many times.
“We have to be more focused in the final stages of games.”