After collecting just one point from their opening two games Portugal's hopes of winning a first UEFA European Under-19 crown are hanging by a thread, although captain Daniel Carriço's steadying displays in defence have been a major plus to emerge from an otherwise disappointing campaign in Austria.
Following their surprise opening Group A loss to Greece another defeat against Spain on Wednesday would have spelt near-certain elimination, but Carriço's equaliser earned a vital point to give Portugal a glimmer of hope going into their final game on Saturday against hosts Austria. "We knew Spain would be a tough match and it turned out that way but we gave all we had and played well," said the 18-year-old after the sides had drawn 1-1 in the finals group stage for the second successive year.
Those results leave Portugal needing to overcome Austria in Ried on Saturday while hoping the game between Spain and Greece produces a winner if they are to progress. "Obviously I'm a little bit disapointed at the results and the way things have gone," the centre-back admitted. "We didn't expect to lose against Greece, although we knew it would be a tough match. But we will do everything in our last game to try to get the win we need."
Carriço, who has progressed through the junior ranks at international level, was an ever-present in Portugal's qualifying campaign as they emerged unbeaten to secure their place in the finals, although he had failed to score for his country until his towering header into the top corner 71 minutes into Wednesday's match. "It was a good corner and I showed up at the right place at the right time," he said. "It's obviously a great feeling for me to score for my country."
Carriço is one of four Sporting Clube de Portugal players in the squad and, despite his disappointment at Portugal's first two results, he is reasonably satisfied with how the tournament is going for him personally. "In a certain way I'm happy with my own performances but you can never forget that I am working for a team and victories are the most important thing. It's good I have played well but it's not been so good for the team. It's very important to be here because every player of my age dreams of playing in these finals. You never know if it's going to happen even once in your lifetime so I want to make the most of the opportunity."
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