MX23RW : Wednesday, January 23 16:41:33

Result: Andre Silva strike sees Portugal past Italy in Lisbon

Andre Silva's strike early in the second half proves the difference as Portugal beat Italy 1-0 at the Estadio da Luz in their UEFA Nations League clash.

Portugal have kicked off their UEFA Nations League campaign with a 1-0 win over Italy at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon this evening, courtesy of Andre Silva's strike early in the second half.

The European champions scored the game's only goal 48 minutes in through Silva's well-taken shot, having knocked the door throughout the opening 45 minutes to no avail.

Victory over the Azzurri in the first competitive clash between the sides in a quarter of a century takes Portugal top of Group A3, two points in front of an Italian side with just one win to their name in nine outings.

Portugal's Mario Rui in action with Italy's Domenico Berardi during the UEFA Nations League clash on September 10, 2018© Reuters

Fernando Santos saw no reason to change his side on the back of their 1-1 home draw with Croatia last time out, in complete contrast to Roberto Mancini who made nine alterations.

Italy were criticised on the back of their 1-1 draw against Poland in their opening match in this competition, and their first-half showing here offered few positives for new boss Mancini.

A deflected Jorginho volley and a long-range drive from Federico Chiesa aside, the Azzurri spent most of the opening 45 minutes attempting to keep out the opposition.

In the absence of the rested Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva led the line and had an early effort kept out by Gianluigi Donnarumma - one of the two surviving members from last time out, along with Jorginho.

Alessio Romagnoli was then in the right place at the right time to block Bernardo Silva's shot on the line after Donnarumma flapped at Bruma's cross.

Further openings would fall the Selecao's way, but William Carvalho skimmed the post with his shot and Mario Rui's cross deflected off Bryan Cristante and hit the top of the crossbar.

Portugal also had a penalty appeal rejected by Scottish referee Willie Collum after Domenico Criscito blocked the run of Pizzi inside the box.

Just three minutes of the second half were required for the Euro 2016 winners to open the scoring, though, with Andre Silva controlling Bruma's pass at the end of a swift counter and tucking it out of Donnarumma's reach.

Donnarumma could do nothing about that strike, but he was equal to Bernardo Silva's angled drive five minutes later, getting two strong hands to the ball to keep his side in the match.

Rather than pushing on from their deserved opener, Santos's men ceded possession all too easily and gave their opponents hope of rescuing a point.

Pizzi got a tame attempt on target 20 minutes from time, but shooting opportunities were proving to be few and far between at both ends of the pitch.

Despite struggling to keep hold of possession, the Azzurri may well have snatched something from the match late on as Simone Zaza headed a good opportunity over the bar.

The final chance of the match fell the hosts' way, with substitute Renato Sanches being kept out by the feet of Donnarumma, but it mattered little as Portugal made it 19 wins in 25 meetings with Italy.

PORTUGAL (4-3-3): Patricio; Cancelo, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Mario Rui; Pizzi (Sanches 74'), Ruben Neves, William Carvalho (Oliveira 84'); Bruma (Martins 74'), Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva

ITALY (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Lazzari, Caldara, Romagnoli, Criscito (Emerson 74'); Cristante (Belotti 79'), Jorginho, Bonaventura; Zaza, Immobile (Berardi 59'), Chiesa

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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during the match against Uruguay on June 30, 2018
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