Football

Fernando Santos defends benching in-form Diogo Jota

Portugal coach Fernando Santos defended his decision to leave in-form Diogo Jota out of his starting line-up for the 1-0 Nations League A, Group 3 defeat by France yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The loss in Lisbon means holders Portugal will not be able to defend their Nations League crown, with France qualifying for the Finals by virtue of topping the group.

Before the match, Santos had said that the mouth-watering quartet of Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva and Jota would not start together and it was the Liverpool man - who has seven goals from 11 games this season - who missed out.

Jota came on in the 57th minute for William Carvalho.

Said Santos: "This team played in France and did very well there. And I don't remember someone asking me why Diogo Jota did not start the game... I don't believe this was our problem.

"We had collective issues and we couldn't stop France playing. And perhaps another problem in the midfield, too."

Football