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One club played a big part in the 3-0 win against Switzerland that opened Portugal's UEFA European Under-17 Championship Group A campaign on Tuesday but double goalscorer Ricardo Esgaio is spreading the credit.
Sporting Clube de Portugal striker Esgaio opened the scoring on 25 minutes in Eschen-Mauren after being set up by club-mate Bruma, and the pair combined again for the third early in the second half, just after another two players from the Lisbon side, Mateus Fonseca and Betinho, had combined to make it 2-0. Esgaio, who turned 17 on Sunday, hailed the contribution of 15-year-old winger Bruma, though emphasising that victory was not just down to the core of Sporting players.
"We know each other very well," Esgaio told UEFA.com. "We have played together for a long time and it is a great feeling to play with Bruma. But it isn't just the Sporting players – the squad have been together since we were U15s. So it is easy to get along with them, not just my Sporting colleagues but everyone in the national team."
The win puts Portugal in a strong position to reach the semi-finals in their first appearance in the U17 showpiece since 2004, and they could even make it through a game early against France on Friday. Esgaio is hopeful they can do just that.
"It was a great result," he said. "It was our goal to win this first match and we are already working hard to make sure we do it again in the second match.
Obviously it's great to score two goals but my first purpose here is to help the team. I am mainly happy because I was able to aid a victory."
Another man with a Sporting link, Rui Bento, coaches the squad and Esgaio is delighted to work under a member of a famed Portugal youth squad, the team that won the 1991 FIFA U-20 World Cup on home soil that also included Luís Figo and Rui Costa. "It's great," Esgaio said. "He has a lot of experience, he knows the game very well because he played for such a long time. It is an excellent opportunity to develop under him. He often talks about his experiences and tells us that if we have that spirit, we too can achieve those goals in our career."
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