Portugal Coach Fernando Santos admits Italy caused them “enormous problems and it was much more difficult than I expected.”
They only needed a point to be sure of topping the Nations League group and making it into the Final Four, which is what they achieved in a 0-0 draw at San Siro.
“We were made to suffer for the point. If I’d had a blood pressure machine on, there might’ve been problems…” confessed Santos in his Press conference.
“I thought it was going to be a great game, as we have similar playing styles, but we had enormous problems. I thought it would overall be more like the second half performance.
“This was not our plan to sit back, but the situation was created by Italy forcing us back. This is an experience that will help us to grow and mature.
“I could’ve put on a quicker player in the final minutes and go for the win, but there was the risk of conceding on the counter-attack, so Danilo gave us more solidity and it went well. It’s a very satisfying result, as we showed the quality of Portuguese football.
“It was a very difficult match, much more difficult than I expected. We struggled to defend, as when we’re not well-organised, we can’t build any forward moves. That is down to Italy, as we knew they’d control the game and try to pin us back.
“It was also our fault to a degree, because we did know what movements Italy would make with Marco Verratti going deeper. We just couldn’t keep the ball.
“During the half-time break, I went to the whiteboard and showed them what had gone wrong, so we improved in the second half.”
Portugal aren’t done yet, as they have one last group game against already-relegated Poland on Tuesday in Guimaraes.