Mini-tournament hosts Portugal progressed to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round with a 100% record from qualifying round Group 5, while Northern Ireland also advanced after edging out Montenegro on goal difference.
Portugal lived up to their favourites' tag by scoring eight goals and conceding just one in three matches. The first of those was a 2-0 defeat of Azerbaijan on Matchday 1, when Gonçalo Paciência – son of SC Braga coach Domingos Paciência – broke the deadlock on 54 minutes. Though Northern Ireland drew 0-0 with Montenegro in the other game, Paul Kee's team more than made up for it next time out by firing six goals past Azerbaijan without reply.
That margin of victory, coupled with Sancidino Silva's hat-trick in the hosts' 3-0 defeat of Montenegro, all but confirmed the identity of the top two and left the latter needing to overturn a nine-goal deficit to Northern Ireland in their final outing if they were to retain any hope of qualifying. That never seemed likely, although Sava Kovaćević's side did at least end their campaign with a 2-1 triumph over Azerbaijan.
Portugal, meanwhile, fell behind to Aaron Rogan's spectacular strike a minute before the break but hit back against Northern Ireland almost immediately through Kristian Gibson's own goal. Second-half strikes from Paciência and Carlos Mané secured victory for coach Emílio Peixe, who said: "After the first half of the first match we performed much better in terms of the quality of our football, and we controlled every minute of all our games."
Kee added: "We are a bit disappointed to have lost the match, but we are pleased to finish second and achieve qualification. We came without two or three players that will make a significant difference when they come back for the elite round in March." Portugal and Nothern Ireland will discover their elite round opposition when the draw takes place on 30 November in Nyon.
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