Fernando Santos acknowledged France were deserving winners against Portugal in the Nations League on Saturday as the world champions’ set-up frustrated the hosts.
Les Bleus beat Portugal 1-0 in Lisbon, gaining a small measure of revenge after losing the Euro 2016 final to Santos’ side on home soil and advancing to the Nations League Finals at the expense of the holders.
Although Anthony Martial had a series of early chances and finished with five shots, the sole goal in the Group A3 fixture came courtesy of N’Golo Kante.
Cristiano Ronaldo was wasteful at the other end, failing to hit the target with five of his six efforts, but it was out wide where Santos felt France gained the upper hand.
Kingsley Coman started up front in the absence of the injured Kylian Mbappe, but Didier Deschamps stationed the winger mainly from the right, directly up against left-back Raphael Guerreiro.
Guerreiro – a key player in attack for Portugal – created three chances but only one in the first half, with six minutes played.
The versatile Borussia Dortmund man and Coman, who was replaced after 59 minutes, largely nullified each other as neither completed a dribble while making one tackle apiece.
However, Coman’s dangerous 10th-minute warning shot, which Rui Patricio saved, posed a problem for Portugal, Santos conceded.
“France were better during the first half,” the Portugal coach said. “They did what we wanted to do.
“We wanted not to leave them any spaces, not to let them play. We know that it’s a team that is capable of getting players in front of goal.
“We managed to do it for 10 minutes and then we had a lot of difficulties. We retreated and France took advantage.
“Placing Coman always on the right was perhaps one of the first causes of our difficulties. This prevented Guerreiro from having the same influence.
“But if we couldn’t get down one side, we should have switched to the other and passed between the lines. We did not succeed, unlike what we had done in Paris [a goalless draw].
“France were better. Getting to the break at 0-0 was not quite fair for them. We made a good start in the second half but we conceded a goal.
“It was only then that the team freed themselves. We got three or four chances. But, in general, France deserve their victory.”