LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Diogo Jota scored two goals and set up another as Portugal defeated Sweden 3-0 in the Nations League on Wednesday in its first game since Cristiano Ronaldo had to be dropped from the squad after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Ronaldo went back to Italy earlier Wednesday to finish his isolation period after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
Ronaldo had played in the national team’s 0-0 draw at France on Sunday, and in the 0-0 draw against Spain in a friendly last week.
“We are not better without Ronaldo, but the team had shown before that it is capable of succeeding without him,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “We were well-organized offensively.”
The Juventus forward, who was said to be asymptomatic, posted a photo on his social media accounts with him wearing Portugal’s jersey in front of a television set with the game on.
“It’s as if I was there,” he wrote.
Jota, who came into the lineup to help make up for Ronaldo’s absence, set up Bernardo Silva’s opening goal in the 21st minute and scored himself in the 44th. The new Liverpool forward finished off the scoring after going past a defender inside the area in the 72nd.
Some 5,000 fans were allowed to watch the match at the José Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon. Nearly 2,500 had been in the stadium for the team’s 0-0 friendly against Spain last week as authorities try to evaluate whether to allow fans back in local soccer competitions.
The victory left defending Nations League champion Portugal at the top of Group 3 with 10 points. France, which won 2-1 at Croatia in the other group match, also reached 10 points, but it has a worse goal difference than Portugal. Croatia stayed in third place with three points, while Sweden has zero points.
In the next round of matches in November, Portugal visits France and Croatia plays at Sweden.
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