Croatia and the Netherlands advanced to the Nations League Semi-Final while France escape relegation despite suffering a defeat to Denmark.
Croatia vs Austria;
With a 3-1 victory over Austria in Vienna, Croatia ensures their spot in the UEFA Nations League Finals while also sending Austria to the League relegation zone.
When Nikola Vlasic got space in the inside right channel and passed it back to Luka Modric, the visitors quickly took the lead. With a stunning first touch, Modric made one defender vanish before slamming his shot beyond Heinz Linder.
Austria retaliated nearly right away. Christoph Baumgartner eased a low cross into the goal with a stooping header after Marcel Sabitzer cut back onto his right foot.
From that point on, the match was close until Marcelo Brozovic hobbled off with a knee injury.
At that point, the home team created a ton of chances and definitely ought to have led at the break.
Everything for Croatia shifted in the second half thanks to two truly exceptional moments.
First, Marko Livaja, a replacement, received a cross from Ivan Perisic, who headed it back across the goal to give the visitors the advantage once more.
Four minutes later, they increased their lead when a short corner utterly disoriented Austria’s defence, allowing Dejan Lovren to head in Lovro Majer’s cross unimpeded.
Before Livaja’s score, the home team had appeared to be in control, but beyond that point, they crumbled and showed no signs of getting themselves back together.
After losing 3-1 to Croatia on Sunday, Austria was demoted and finished one point below France.
Denmark vs France;
Even though Denmark defeated France and lost out on a spot in the Nations League finals, the defending champions France narrowly survive the Nations League relegation.
The hosts in Copenhagen scored two goals in the first half from Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen was on target for Denmark.
By defeating Austria on Thursday, world champions France, who defeated Spain 2-1 in last year’s Nations League final, snapped a four-game losing streak and rose off the bottom of the group.
At Parken Stadium, Kylian Mbappe forced Kasper Schmeichel into action after a corner as France mounted early pressure. France needed to win to ensure their top-tier position in the championship.
A beautiful ball over the top by the Manchester United midfielder Eriksen was intercepted by Skov Olsen after Christian Eriksen had helped Denmark start to pose more of a threat.
To build up Dolberg’s breakthrough, Eriksen found Mikkel Damsgaard on the right; the striker glided in to meet the Brentford winger’s low cross.
Netherlands vs Belgium;
The Netherlands defeated Belgium 1-0 on Sunday to claim first place in their Nations League group and a spot in the finals competition. Captain Virgil van Dijk scored the game-winning goal in the second half.
In the 73rd minute at the Amsterdam Arena on Sunday, Van Dijk headed in a corner to give the Dutch a resounding victory in League A Group Four.
With 16 points overall, they ended six points ahead of Belgium, who had a chance to pass them for the first position but needed a victory on Sunday of at least three goals to do so.
But any thoughts of a goal feast were swiftly dashed as the two teams engaged in a close tactical struggle and efficiently neutralized one another.
Dutch pressing prevented Belgium from establishing attacks, and the visitors’ five-man defence left little opportunity for the home strikers.
It meant that the game’s winner came from a straightforward set piece, with Van Dijk leaping over his defender, the 18-year-old Zeno Debast, to give Louis van Gaal his 37th victory in his three stints as national team manager, tying Dick Advocaat’s previous milestone for a Dutch coach.
The potential for a perfect start for Belgium, whose own coach Roberto Martinez was forced to watch from the stands after receiving a red card after last week’s victory over Wales, came after only four minutes when Eden Hazard was set up by Amadou Onana but missed his attempt.
Other first-half opportunities fell to Michy Batshauyi, Axel Witsel, Timothy Castagne, and Onana as Belgium had the better of the chances, and Thibaut Courtois, their goalkeeper, was mostly trouble-free.
After two halftime substitutions, the Dutch improved, as Denzel Dumfries, Steven Bergwijn, and Davy Klaassen were all stopped as the home team started to find more space and Belgium lived precariously at the back in the game’s closing minutes.
Wales vs Poland;
After losing at home to Poland, Wales was demoted from the top division of the Nations League.
The visitors, who just needed a draw to beat Wales to survival, got the best of a physical, goalless first half in which tempers boiled more frequently than chances for either team to score were created.
At the hour mark, Poland rightfully took the lead after captain Robert Lewandowski’s lovely touch allowed Karol Swiderski to finish between Wayne Hennessey’s legs and elicit thunderous celebrations from the traveling supporters.
Brennan Johnson’s low drive was expertly stopped by Wojciech Szczesny, and in extra time, Gareth Bale headed against the crossbar as Wales had chances to tie the score.
But Lewandowski’s motivation was a valuable deciding contribution in a game that otherwise wasn’t very good.
In their debut season at the top level of the Nations League, Wales finished last in Group A4 with just one point from six games, but they are in good company considering that teams like England were also relegated to the second tier.
Wales was eliminated from the same group after they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Poland at home.