Memphis Depay scored one and created another in his latest dominant display as the Netherlands defeated Georgia 3-0 on Sunday ahead of Euro 2020.

Lyon striker Depay had scored both goals in the prior friendly against Scotland to rescue a draw and played a key role again a week out from the Oranje's tournament opener at home to Ukraine.

The first from Depay came from the penalty spot after 10 minutes and he then teased a gorgeous pass through for Wout Weghorst's first international goal in the second half. Ryan Gravenberch later broke his own duck.

Depay and Weghorst again headlined a Frank de Boer XI that showed only two changes from the team that faced Scotland, hinting at his finals line-up, but Matthijs de Ligt was one of those to make way due to a groin complaint.

He was a miss in the defence as Saba Lobzhanidze advanced inside two minutes and squandered a big chance with a tame finish.

The Netherlands would not be as wasteful when they forged a similarly straightforward path through the Georgia back line and Depay converted the penalty won from his pass by Denzel Dumfries, who was tripped by Lasha Dvali.

Dumfries and Depay soon combined again, but the latter's stretching effort was superbly saved by Giorgi Loria, a stop that should have allowed the visitors to equalise when Valeriane Gvilia instead steered wide.

Loria was at his best again to touch over Frenkie de Jong's drive, yet Weghorst's close-range strike escaped his clutches 10 minutes into the second half.

Although more agile goalkeeping kept out Depay's blast, pressure continued to build on Loria's goal and he blocked again from the same man only to see Gravenberch nod in.

A sensational Jambul Jigauri volley beat Maarten Stekelenburg five minutes from time but bounced away off the crossbar, ensuring a one-sided final scoreline.

 

What does it mean? Steady stuff from De Boer's men

De Boer clearly has a settled side, which might give the Netherlands an edge over some opponents, but they will have to beat better teams than Georgia to become champions of Europe.

This was not the most convincing display, although there could have been more home goals if not for some excellent work from Loria, who prevented 1.19 goals using expected goals on target data.

Depay devastating once again

Depay was involved in a goal every 38 minutes in qualifying (six goals and seven assists in 495 minutes), the best rate among the 54 players to have a hand in five or more. A goal and an assist in 90 minutes meant he was only marginally less effective on Sunday.

With the defence looking a little shaky and Weghorst still making his way on the international stage, the Netherlands' campaign will live or die by Depay's performances.

Daley a disappointing deputy

It was no surprise to see Daley Blind removed in De Boer's only half-time change, having replaced De Ligt in the line-up. The Ajax defender was preferred to Nathan Ake, the substitute that took his place.

Blind failed to complete a tackle or interception as he was exposed by the pace of Lobzhanidze. Euros opponents will be more clinical if Blind has to step in again for De Ligt.

What's next?

All eyes now are on the Euros, which begins for the Netherlands against Ukraine in Amsterdam next Sunday.

Didier Deschamps suggested he is keen to continue as France coach beyond the expiration of his current deal, which runs out next year.

Deschamps has led France to a European Championship final and World Cup glory during his nine-year tenure as Les Bleus boss.

Indeed, he is only the third person – along with Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer – to have won the World Cup as both a player and a coach, while he would also make history if he guides France to success at Euro 2020 this year.

France going a step further than they managed on home soil in 2016 would make Deschamps the first person to win both the Euros and the World Cup as a player and coach.

However, this may well be his last shot at it with France, as his current deal runs until the end of 2022, after the Qatar World Cup has culminated.

Deschamps, though, has no plans to leave the position, as long as he has the backing of the French Football Federation (FFF).

"I may continue after 2022 with the agreement of my president," Deschamps told RTL.

"People have to want to keep me and for that you need results. I will do something else at some point, but I am thriving in this role of manager. 

"I have a contract until December 2022, but today I am not thinking of becoming a club coach. I am very happy, all the conditions are met."

Deschamps has taken charge of 112 matches during his France reign, which began in 2012 following Laurent Blanc's resignation.

He has managed 74 wins, with France losing 18 times and drawing a further 20 games.

France have one final pre-tournament friendly – against Bulgaria – on Tuesday, before they kick-off their Euro 2020 campaign against Germany on June 15. Portugal, who beat Les Bleus in the Euro 2016 final, and Hungary are also in their group.

Melbourne Victory equalised with almost the final kick of the game as they held A-League Premiers Melbourne City to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

City were on a three-match winning run in the derby and had won the previous meetings this season 6-0 and 7-0, leaving them just two short of the competition record for goals against the same opponent in a single campaign.

However, it took until the 54th minute for City to find the breakthrough – Nicholas Ansell turning the ball into his own net following Naoki Tsubaki's cross from the right.

Victory striker Rudy Gestede fired over when given a good chance to level and a fine save from Tom Glover denied the former Aston Villa man four minutes later.

City thought they had settled the contest as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, but a VAR review disallowed Anthony Lesiotis' tap-in for offside.

The home side continued to push for a leveller and it came in the fifth minute of injury time, substitute Lleyton Brooks firing a half-volley into the top-right corner after City failed to clear a corner.

Victory's cheers resounded around the empty stands of AAMI Park as the result means they are one point above Newcastle Jets at the foot of the table.

They will avoid the wooden spoon if the Jets are beaten in their final match with City, a game which was postponed last month due to lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.

Melbourne Victory equalised with almost the final kick of the game as they held A-League Premiers Melbourne City to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

City were on a three-match winning run in the derby and had won the previous meetings this season 6-0 and 7-0, leaving them just two short of the competition record for goals against the same opponent in a single campaign.

However, it took until the 54th minute for City to find the breakthrough – Nicholas Ansell turning the ball into his own net following Naoki Tsubaki's cross from the right.

Victory striker Rudy Gestede fired over when given a good chance to level and a fine save from Tom Glover denied the former Aston Villa man four minutes later.

City thought they had settled the contest as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, but a VAR review disallowed Anthony Lesiotis' tap-in for offside.

The home side continued to push for a leveller and it came in the fifth minute of injury time, substitute Lleyton Brooks firing a half-volley into the top-right corner after City failed to clear a corner.

Victory's cheers resounded around the empty stands of AAMI Park as the result means they are one point above Newcastle Jets at the foot of the table.

They will avoid the wooden spoon if the Jets are beaten in their final match with City, a game which was postponed last month due to lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.

Euro 2020 is just days away, and that means the rumour mill is about to go into overdrive.

International tournaments always represent something of a showcase for clubs seeking reinforcements and this year will be no different, even if the impact of the pandemic means spending may not quite reach levels of old.

There will be several players eager to impress at these finals: some will be long-term targets out to justify the hype, while others will be seeking a new challenge as contracts begin to wind down.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform has compiled a list of some of the candidates vying to be front and centre of this particular shop window...

 

Belgium: Jeremy Doku

One of Belgium's less-known attacking stars, Jeremy Doku was directly involved in 10 goals in the Jupiler League by the time he was 18 years and 115 days old, a record bettered only by Romelu Lukaku.

Previously wanted by Liverpool, the Rennes forward could become a target for Jurgen Klopp – thought to be exploring new attacking options – should he be given the chance to impress by Roberto Martinez.

Croatia: Bruno Petkovic

"Bruno Petkovic has to be at Euro 2020 what [Mario] Mandzukic was in Russia," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic last month. No pressure, then.

Still, the Dinamo Zagreb forward impressed in last season's Europa League with four goals in nine starts and could represent a relatively low-cost option in the market.

England: Jadon Sancho

The star performer as Borussia Dortmund won the DFB-Pokal final, Jadon Sancho was the first English player since David Beckham 20 years ago to register at least 10 assists for three seasons in a row in Europe's top-five leagues.

Manchester United continue to be mooted as the winger's most likely destination should he leave Dortmund, but a star turn at the Euros could trigger a bidding war among some of the biggest clubs.

France: Jules Kounde

Getting into the France starting line-up is no easy task these days, but Jules Kounde could well force Didier Deschamps' hand given the qualities he brings to centre-back.

An accomplished stopper, the Sevilla man is also impeccable on the ball: he made 887 forward passes in LaLiga last season, the most of any outfield player. Little wonder that Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been linked.

Germany: Florian Neuhaus

Given he has been linked with Bayern Munich for months now, Florian Neuhaus must be doing something right.

The 108th Germany debutant under Joachim Low, the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder could well find himself in high demand in the transfer window should he earn a regular spot at the Euros.

Italy: Manuel Locatelli

The heartbeat of a vibrant Sassuolo side, Manuel Locatelli in January became the first Italian player born after January 1, 1998 to record 10 Serie A assists.

Juventus are considered his likely next destination, but there are reports of interest from the Premier League, which would likely only increase in number should he shine at the Euros.

Netherlands: Memphis Depay

It appears likely Memphis Depay will leave Lyon for Barcelona on a free transfer, but, as long as that deal is not concluded, other clubs may sense the chance to snap up the forward.

Depay just became the first Lyon player to register at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a single Ligue 1 season since at least 2006-07 and looks like one of the Oranje's form players.

Poland: Kacper Kozlowski

At just 17, Kacper Kozlowski has established himself in the Pogon Szczecin first team, something made all-the-more remarkable given he was badly injured in a car crash in January 2020.

Although a name not well known outside Poland, the midfielder has been scouted by Manchester United and interest across the continent could well pick up after this tournament.

 

Portugal: Nuno Mendes

Considered one of Portugal's brightest prospects, Nuno Mendes has already been linked with the Manchester clubs after shining for Sporting CP.

Interest in the 18-year-old is only likely to increase should he perform well at the Euros, especially if he ousts Raphael Guerreiro from the side, and Sporting would surely be prepared to sell for a handsome fee.

 

Russia: Denis Cheryshev

Zero goas in 21 games for Valencia in LaLiga last season underlined a frustrating spell for Denis Cheryshev at club level.

The 30-year-old was Russia's star performer at the World Cup three years ago, though, and the Euros offer a good chance to tempt any possible suitors as he considers his future.

Spain: Pau Torres

Pau Torres was at the heart of Villarreal's Europa League triumph. In fact, he made nine appearances without being dribbled past, a single-season tally only bettered twice in the competition's history.

The centre-back has made it clear he is happy at the club, but strong performances for Spain could tempt suitors including Manchester United to test Villarreal's resolve to keep him.

Sweden: Alexander Isak

Linked with Barcelona during the season, Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak broke Zlatan Ibrahimovic's record for most goals by a Swede in a single LaLiga campaign by scoring 17 in 2020-21.

With Ibrahimovic missing these finals due to injury, 21-year-old Isak has a good opportunity to impress on the international stage.

Switzerland: Denis Zakaria

With his contract expiring next year, Denis Zakaria could be a more affordable midfield signing for any clubs willing to tempt Borussia Monchengladbach into a sale.

The 24-year-old offers great variety to the Switzerland midfield and English sides are expected to be watching him closely at these finals.

Ukraine: Ruslan Malinovskiy

Ruslan Malinovskiy is another Atalanta player to catch the eye under Gian Piero Gasperini. He was directly involved in a goal every 94 minutes in Serie A in 2020-21, the most of any midfielder to play at least 15 times.

Now 28, this could be his best chance to secure a significant transfer should he decide to leave Bergamo, and there have been rumblings of interest from Chelsea.

Wales: Gareth Bale

With 11 goals in 10 Premier League starts in 2020-21, Gareth Bale registered the best minutes-per-goal ratio (84) of any of the competition's top goalscorers.

He is returning to Real Madrid following his loan at Tottenham and Carlo Ancelotti appears keen to keep him, but heroics for Wales could encourage suitors to bid.

Borussia Dortmund appear to be more willing to allow Jadon Sancho to depart this off-season.

The England international has been courted by several Premier League clubs in the past.

He almost joined Manchester United 12 months ago in a drawn out transfer saga.

 

TOP STORY - SANCHO DEAL BACK ON FOR UNITED

The Mirror claims that Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho has agreed personal terms on a move to join Manchester United.

The 21-year-old winger came close to signing with the Red Devils 12 months ago but this time around Dortmund are more willing to part ways with him.

Sancho has reportedly settled on the details of the contract offer but United and Dortmund still need to agree on the transfer fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham's search for a new manager has moved to Ajax boss Erik van Tag according to the Mirror. Spurs' move for Antonio Conte has collapsed.

- New Roma head coach Jose Mourinho is chasing a goalkeeper, with Tottenham's Hugo Lloris, Juventus' Wojciech Szczesny and Wolverhampton's Rui Patricio top of the list, reports La Gazetta dello Sport.

- Roma are also keen on Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka according to Corriere dello Sport.

- The Mirror also reports that England full-back Kieran Trippier has informed his Atletico Madrid teammates that he wants to join Manchester United this off-season.

- Marca reports that Barcelona plan to offer a new contract to youngster Ilaix Moriba following interest from several top clubs after his breakout season.

Paul Pogba has warned France they need to remain humble to avoid Euro 2020 disappointment, adamant they will just be seen as a "PlayStation team" if they are not successful.

Les Bleus head into the Euros well fancied for more glory, having won the 2018 World Cup and seeing their already-remarkable pool of talent improve even further.

France are one of two European nations – with Belgium – to have reached at least the quarter-finals of the past three major tournaments, while their squad accumulated the second-most minutes (522,421) across the top five European Leagues this season among those to qualify for the Euros – they certainly are not short of experience.

As many as 14 of their 26-man squad were in Russia three years ago, while they are now able to add Karim Benzema into the mix again – the Real Madrid star recalled after nearly six years in the international wilderness.

Benzema goes into the tournament on the back of his best goalscoring season (30 in all competitions) since netting 32 in 2011-12 and bolsters a position that was arguably seen as the weakest in the France squad, with Olivier Giroud often chosen to lead the line in Russia.

 

Add Benzema to Kylian Mbappe and a semi-resurgent Antoine Griezmann, who had a hand in 25 goals (15 scored and 10 assists) across all competitions since the turn of the year for Barcelona, and Didier Deschamps has a potentially frightening front three.

Griezmann boasts a brilliant record in international tournaments after being involved in more goals (14) over the past two such events than any other European player.

 

But France are not just a force to be reckoned with in attack, their record of 1.6 shots on target conceded per 90 minutes in the Euro 2020 qualifiers was not bettered by any other team, though their pedigree and reputation will count for nothing if they fail to rise to the occasion at the Euros, according to Pogba.

"We have a PlayStation team but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don't win a trophy," the Manchester United midfielder told Eurosport.

"We have to live up to expectations and there'll be even more expected with Karim's return. It's nice to see a teamsheet like that... It's always an honour but you always have to be present on the pitch.

"Being world champions and having a team like that, we will be expected to do even more.

"We must remain humble. I want to give this message: It's not a foregone conclusion. We hear a lot of talk but we keep out feet on the ground."

Les Bleus will be attempting to become the fourth team to win back-to-back World Cup and Euros – in no particular order – after West Germany (Euro 1972, World Cup 1974), France (World Cup 1998, Euro 2000) and Spain (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012).

If Deschamps lifts the trophy at Euro 2020, he will become the first person ever to win the World Cup and Euros both as player and manager.

There is lots on the line for France, and they certainly have a squad capable of making amends for their Euro 2016 final disappointment.

But, as Pogba has pointed out, arrogance will do them little good in a group that also contains Germany and defending champions Portugal.

Gareth Southgate described Trent Alexander-Arnold's injury as "heartbreaking" for the Liverpool full-back, who will miss Euro 2020.

Alexander-Arnold sustained a thigh injury late on in England's friendly win over Austria on Wednesday, and scans the next day confirmed he will face around six weeks out.

His place in the 26-man squad for Euro 2020 had been the subject of fierce debate in the media, but the 22-year-old made the cut.

With three other right-backs in his squad, Southgate will make a call on who replaces Alexander-Arnold in his selection after Sunday's friendly against Romania in Middlesbrough.

But for now, the England manager offered his support to Alexander-Arnold, whose focus will be on returning to fitness ahead of Liverpool's 2021-22 campaign.

"Well it's heartbreaking really, for any player to get to the eve of a major tournament, be named in the squad and then to miss out through injury," Southgate told a news conference.

"You know how rare these opportunities are, even though he's a young player who's going to have these opportunities again, that's a really difficult moment for him especially.

"It's a big disappointment for us of course, as well, but you can't help, first and foremost, to feel for Trent in this situation.

"The one thing I was pleased about immediately after the game, I didn't like the look of the injury but at least it sounds like he'll be fine for pre-season and next season, but that is a very small positive. Of course he was very upset, bitterly disappointed and in those moments everybody is thinking about him."

England have six players available on standby – James Ward-Prowse, Ben Godfrey, Ben White, Ollie Watkins, Jesse Lingard and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

The Three Lions still seem well stacked in defence, though midfield is an area they look to be short in, with Jordan Henderson's fitness still in question, albeit centre-back Harry Maguire is also working his way back from injury and seems unlikely to be able to feature in the Group D opener against Croatia on June 13.

Pressed on whether it would definitely be a defender who replaces Alexander-Arnold, Southgate replied: "We want to see how we get through tomorrow's game, be able to assess everything and we'll make a decision from there.

"It's important to have time to consider everything, we're obviously talking about that as a coaching staff. We'll know more after tomorrow's game where everybody is physically, whether there's any more issues, it's important we get the positional balance right for the whole squad."

Asked for an update on Maguire, who is still not training with the team, Southgate said: "With any injury it's impossible to predict 100 per cent.

"Our medical team are pleased with his progress, particularly over the last couple of days, so we know there is always that risk, but all of the guide is that he should be available. It's a case of when he can slot back into training with the group.

"There's always that risk with any injury that you only have to have one minor setback, I am very realistic about that. If he's fit and available, that's a bonus for us."

Brazil captain Casemiro suggested the entire Selecao squad are united against hosting the upcoming Copa America.

The 2021 Copa America is scheduled to take place in Brazil, starting June 13, following CONMEBOL's decision to relocate the event.

Postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Copa America had been due to be shared between Colombia and Argentina, though both countries were removed as co-hosts following respective political and COVID-19 issues.

Brazil have been awarded hosting rights in pursuit of back-to-back titles, despite being one of the country's worst hit by the COVID-19 health crisis.

Prior to Friday's 2-0 win over Ecuador in World Cup qualifying, Brazil head coach Tite could not guarantee the participation of his side at the showpiece event on home soil, promising to shed more light on the situation following Tuesday's fixture against Paraguay.

After Brazil preserved their perfect record in qualifying following five wins from five games, Casmeiro was asked about the team's reported stance.

"We cannot talk about the Copa America, even if everyone knows what our opinion is," Casemiro told TV Globo post-game. "But we can't talk about it, everyone knows that we think.

"It is very clear what we think about the Copa America, but now we have to respect certain hierarchies. It is clear that we want to express ourselves about it, but unfortunately now we cannot."

Casemiro, whose Brazil are due to face Paraguay before their scheduled Copa America opener against Venezuela on June 13, added: "We are not going to talk about this, Tite already told how the opinion is.

"As the captain and leader, we already have our position. We want to talk but now is not the moment to do it.

"I'm not the only one, it's not only the European players [against hosting], we are all. When someone speaks, everybody does it, or Tite, or coaching staff. We have to be unified."

Neymar and Richarlison were both on target in the second half as Brazil stayed perfect on the road to Qatar 2022.

Brazil – in Group B for the Copa America, alongside Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela – have won their opening five games in a World Cup qualifying campaign since 1970.

Brazil preserved their perfect record in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying after Richarlison and Neymar's second-half strikes broke Ecuador's stubborn resistance in a 2-0 victory.

Richarlison and Neymar combined for the decisive 65th-minute goal as Brazil made it five wins from five matches on the road to Qatar 2022 in Porto Alegre on Friday.

With all eyes on the upcoming Copa America, due to start in Brazil on June 13 amid reports some of the Selecao players do not want to compete, Richarlison broke the deadlock with a powerful strike behind closed doors.

Neymar sealed the win with a re-taken penalty in the 94th minute to send Tite's men four points clear atop the qualifying standings.

It was a clash between the two top-scoring teams in World Cup qualifying, Ecuador having scored 13 goals through four rounds, while Brazil had found the back of the net on 12 occasions.

But chances were few and far between, especially in the first half, with Ecuador looking comfortable away from home amid Brazil's subdued play.

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa – who had forced goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez into a routine save earlier in the half – did put the ball in the back of the net for Brazil three minutes before half-time but it was ruled out for offside.

While Brazil – playing for the first time since November's 2-0 win in Uruguay – were largely toothless in the opening 45 minutes, they did not face a shot on target for the third occasion in their five qualifying games.

Neymar, the subject of a scary incident prior to kick-off as two overexcited fans charged at the Paris Saint-Germain star and attempted to steal his shoes, continued to be in the thick of the action with a couple of strikes.

He was the architect for the opening goal just past the hour mark, playing in Richarlison, whose shot proved too hot to handle for Dominguez at the front post.

That goal brought Brazil to life as Gabigol had two good chances to double the lead for the Selecao.

With 18 minutes remaining, Gabigol got on the end of Gabriel Jesus' reverse pass but Dominguez was quick off his line to thwart the Flamengo star.

Gabigol was unable to divert his header on target three minutes later after Richarlison did superbly well to keep the ball in play.

Brazil were awarded a penalty following a VAR review at the death and while Neymar's initial penalty was saved by Dominguez in the first minute of stoppage time, an encroachment spared the star's blushes as he made no mistake a second time around.

Paris Saint-Germain celebrated their maiden Division 1 Feminine title on Friday as Lyon's run of 14 consecutive league trophies came to an end.

Lyon had dominated the top tier of women's football in France, their stranglehold on the league dating back to 2007.

PSG had finished second on eight occasions during that period, but that changed thanks to a 3-0 home win over Dijon in their final game of the season.

French capital club PSG went into the final round a point clear atop the table following their goalless draw away to rivals Lyon in the penultimate fixture.

PSG got their hands on the trophy thanks to goals from Sara Dabritz, captain Irene Paredes and Jordyn Huitema, despite Lyon's 8-0 demolition of Fleury 91.

Olivier Echouafni's PSG went through the league campaign undefeated after 22 games, winning 20 matches, while scoring 83 goals and conceding just four times.

It is not the first time PSG have snapped a Lyon streak in 2020-21.

Lyon suffered their first Division 1 Feminine loss in four years, the club's incredible streak halted by PSG in November.

The dominant force of women's football in France and Europe, Lyon's 80-match unbeaten league run – which featured 75 wins – was ended following a 1-0 loss.

Not since December 2016 had Lyon tasted league defeat.

PSG also upstaged Lyon after extra time in the Women's Champions League quarter-finals this season.

Roberto Mancini does not think his Italy team are the finished article just yet, despite a 4-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic extending their unbeaten run ahead of Euro 2020.

Italy have not lost an international fixture since a 1-0 Nations League reverse against Portugal back in September 2018, with Friday's emphatic friendly triumph making it 27 consecutive matches without defeat.

Ciro Immobile and Nicolo Barella both benefited from deflections to score in the first half, while birthday boy Lorenzo Insigne celebrated with the third goal before setting up Domenico Berardi soon after.

Mancini was pleased with the performance against "excellent" opponents, though made clear there are areas Italy can improve as they now focus on their tournament opener against Turkey on June 11.

"We played well and faced the match in the right way against an excellent team," Mancini said in his post-match interview with Rai Sport.

"At the beginning it took us a few minutes to get going, but I wanted to see the team play like this, it's my national team. We need to improve from many points of view, I think it can be a good thing.

"We have to play our game. We are an offensive team, we must attack and defend when there is a need to defend. The mentality will be important.

He added: "We need to improve, we are young and there are many points of view where we can do better. However, a friendly match like this is a good sign."

Insigne excelled on the day he turned 30, with his goal seeing him convert when played through by Immobile's clever pass in behind the Czech defence.

Napoli forward Insigne then assisted for Berardi to complete the scoring, Italy winning with ease while keeping an eighth successive clean sheet – a new record for the national team.

Sassuolo's Berardi made it five goals in his last six appearances for Italy.

"I feel the coach's confidence and I try to do my best," Insigne said after the game. 

"Mancini has created a great group, a great spirit and has put everyone in a position to express themselves at their best and have fun. We are playing great football."

Luis Enrique issued a strong defence of Alvaro Morata after a 0-0 draw with Portugal that saw debutant Aymeric Laporte impress the Spain boss ahead of Euro 2020.

The 2012 winners were unable to find a way through against the reigning champions as the two neighbouring nations met in a friendly fixture as part of their preparations for this year's tournament.

However, Spain saw Morata fail to convert a glorious late chance at the Wanda Metropolitano, his attempt when clean through hitting the crossbar.

It was one of four shots by the striker during proceedings, of which only one ended up on target. Still, he did make two key passes and, despite the crowd getting on his case following the miss, his head coach was more than happy with what he saw.

"I am not worried about it," Luis Enrique said when asked about the 28-year-old.

"The last play saw Morata kill himself to pressure. He has been a constant nuisance for the Portuguese, doing an incredible job, and in the 90th minute he is able to make a 40-metre action, fool the goalkeeper and then has bad luck when hitting the crossbar. 

"I think that's something to be applauded. I have seen him very well in terms of his morale, he is already used to it [the criticism]."

There were also whistles at full-time after the hosts failed to capitalise on their dominance. Spain had 65.7 per cent of possession which led to 10 attempts, albeit Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio only had to make two saves.

"I haven't seen anyone whistle at me. I do not care. Yes, it bothers me that it is done to the players," a defiant Luis Enrique said.

"Everyone can do what they want, but I just found out now. I understand my role, I know what it means to be a public figure.

"But people praise me and even blow me kisses, so I feel loved and in Madrid I am delighted."

Laporte was clearly one of the positives to come out of the fixture for Spain, the Manchester City defender combining with fellow centre-back Pau Torres to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet.

After Portugal had just one on-target attempt during the contest, Luis Enrique said: "I have seen it as expected, very good. It is not common and normal to have two left-sided central defenders, but I have played many years with right central defenders and it does not surprise anyone.

"It is difficult to find two left-sided central defenders of this quality. They have been exceptional, dominating in the air, in passing the ball, putting pressure on the Portuguese forwards. They were outstanding."

Ronald Koeman admits it was a relief to see speculation over his future as Barcelona head coach ended this week.

On Thursday, Barca president Joan Laporta confirmed Koeman would remain in charge of the first team for the 2021-22 season.

A hero as a player at Camp Nou, Koeman could only secure third place in LaLiga last season as Atletico Madrid won the title, his Copa del Rey success doing little to quieten the doubters.

Laporta had seemed keen to appoint a replacement before next season, with former club captain Xavi reportedly among the favourites for the role, but he announced his support for Koeman following a "reflection period".

Koeman said the discussions and doubts over his position had been "intense", but that he was now focused on steering Barca back towards major trophies.

"I am relieved to say my players and staff can fully focus on the new season now," he said via his Twitter account.

"The last few weeks have been intense, but I am glad that president Joan Laporta gave his support to me and calm has been restored.

"The focus of everyone in the club is the same: building a winning Barca and achieving success!"

Barca allowed the title to slip from their reach after dragging themselves back into contention following a poor start to the season.

They failed to finish in the top two and went two seasons running without winning the title for the first time since 2008.

Their tally of 79 points was their lowest total since the same year, when they managed 67. Indeed, the last coach to earn 76 or fewer points in his first 38 games with the club was Frank Rijkaard in 2003-04 (72 – W21 D9 L8).

Italy extended their impressive unbeaten run to 27 matches as they completed their Euro 2020 preparations with a 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Friday.

Ciro Immobile and Nicolo Barella grabbed first-half goals in the friendly fixture at the Renato Dall'Ara Stadium in Bologna, though both benefited from seeing their attempts take crucial deflections to beat Jiri Pavlenka.

Lorenzo Insigne required no help to add a third in the 66th minute and then set up Domenico Berardi for the final goal as the Czechs were easily bounced, producing a worrying performance ahead of their involvement in the European Championship.

In contrast, the Azzurri head into the delayed tournament having not been beaten since a 1-0 reverse against Portugal in a Nations League fixture back in September 2018.

Not long after an injury scare for Leonardo Bonucci that saw the Juventus centre-back require treatment on his right knee, Immobile opened the scoring when his close-range shot clipped Ondrej Celustka to wrong-foot goalkeeper Pavlenka.

If that goal was somewhat unfortunate for the Czech Republic, the second they conceded was just plain bizarre.

Barella was allowed to carry the ball when in possession before taking aim from just outside the penalty area, his effort hitting not one but two defenders before ending up in the net.

Jan Boril's bid to make a block on the Inter midfielder only sent the ball onto compatriot Jakub Brabec, who – with his back turned – ended up sending the ball looping up and over the luckless Pavlenka.

Immobile's clever throughball allowed Insigne to curl a right-footed attempt into the net, while the scorer of Italy's third turned provider to set up Berardi for a cheeky finish, with an initial dummy fooling Pavlenka to allow the Sassuolo player to flick in with his left foot.

Roberto Mancini handed Berardi's club colleague Giacomo Raspadori a debut off the bench, but the forward – a surprise selection in the final 26-man squad announced on Monday – could not mark the memorable occasion by adding his name to the list of scorers.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.