France manager Didier Deschamps has praised Manchester United striker Anthony Martial despite the 24-year-old missing a number of chances in the 1-0 win over Portugal.
Martial was selected to start but he failed to get on the scoresheet despite hitting the bar and having two shots saved at point-blank range by Rui Patricio. Even so, Deschamps says the player has a new-found maturity in his game:
“He lacked in finishing – it seemed a little bit clumsy. But sincerely, having watched the moments again, it came down to small margins. He is part of the group of players who have not been here for a long period of time, but he has changed during this period, on the pitch and off of it.”
“With years, he has also gained maturity. He is much more determined – he already had quality. Things are more concrete. I feel a bit unfortunate for him because he was not rewarded with a goal [against Portugal] but he is very promising.”
Paul Pogba also started for France, while Bruno Fernandes also lined up against his club teammates for Portugal. Despite only playing 71 minutes, the 26-year-old created four chances, adding to his impressive record in the Nations League this campaign.
The midfielder currently has more key passes, more shots and more tackles than any other player in the competition heading into the final group game. France’s win, though, means Portugal will miss out on the finals next Autumn.
Edinson Cavani was also in action for Uruguay and he got on the scoresheet in the 3-0 victory over Colombia. The 33-year-old now has the fifth-most goals in Commebol World Cup qualifiers.