Neco Williams assists in first start for Wales on star-making night for Diogo Jota

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Neco Williams made another match-winning contribution for Wales on his first start, while Diogo Jota‘s fingerprints were all over Portugal’s 3-0 victory over Sweden.

It has been a strong start for Williams as part of Ryan Giggs’ Wales side, having scored a last-minute winner against Bulgaria in the September international break.

That was in only his second appearance for his country, but Wednesday night brought a first-ever start, as part of a rotated side taking on Bulgaria for the second time in as many months.

Williams played as a right wing-back in a 3-4-3, with Harry Wilson taking up duties as part of a new-look forward line alongside Daniel James and Tyler Roberts.

In a slow night for Wales, Williams was one of the main standouts, creating more chances (three) than any other player, with only centre-back Ben Davies (76) touching the ball more for Wales (74).

Both of the youngster’s crosses from the right found their target, and that was most important with Jonny Williams’ 85th-minute winner, with the Charlton midfielder having replaced Wilson after an injury concern earlier in the game.

Peeling away on the touchline, Williams was found surging forward and fizzed in an early ball for his namesake to turn home with an excellent finish.

It proved to be the only goal of the game, and brings Williams’ tally to a goal and an assist in four outings for Wales so far, and even more encouraging was that he stayed on for the full 90 minutes.

Elsewhere, in Lisbon, it was a star-making night for Jota, who started for Portugal in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, after the Juventus forward’s positive test for COVID-19.

The 23-year-old made his second start for his country, lining up in his natural left-sided role in attack alongside Bernardo Silva and Joao Felix.

Jota made his intentions clear early, racing forward and cutting onto his right to fire an effort just wide of the post in the first minute.

He was sharp whenever the ball was in the final third, with his movement allowing him to find space to pick up the pass, as with his assist for Silva in the 21st minute.

More impressive, though, was the way he was able to ghost into the box to latch onto Joao Cancelo’s cross from deep, evading the Swedish defence to take one touch and fire an expert finish into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.

And his second goal of the night showcased the devastating counter-attacking quality he can bring to Liverpool, picking up William Carvalho’s ball on the left and, within four seconds, driving into the box, beating two men and hammering a low shot in.

That sealed the win for Portugal, and while like at club level Jota will face a battle for a regular starting place, his performance in Lisbon showed what he can bring to both sides.

Virgil van Dijk of Holland during the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier group C qualifying match between Estonia and The Netherlands at A. Le Coq Arena on September 09, 2019 in Tallinn, Estonia

It was a largely quiet final night of the break for Liverpool’s internationals otherwise, with Jordan Henderson the sole inclusion in England’s 1-0 loss to Denmark, playing 14 minutes from the bench as Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold went unused.

Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum both played the full 90 as Frank de Boer’s disappointing start to life at Netherlands manager continued with a 1-1 draw with Italy.

Andy Robertson was suspended for Scotland’s 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic, while Caoimhin Kelleher and Divock Origi were unused substitutes for the Republic of Ireland and Belgium respectively.

The Reds will now return to Melwood for a tight turnaround ahead of the Merseyside derby, with the overriding positive being that, bar Naby Keita‘s possible COVID-19 case, there were no setbacks during a busy break.

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