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José Couceiro and Guy Levy were in agreement that Portugal are unlucky to be out of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship after their 4-0 victory over Israel in Groningen tonight was insufficient to overtake Belgium in second place in Group A. With the Belgians drawing against the Netherlands, Portugal – "the best team in the tournament" for Couceiro - missed out by a point. According to Levy, the Portuguese set a standard that future Israel sides must strive to attain.
José Couceiro, Portugal coach
Today we have again shown – as we did last Wednesday against the Netherlands - that we are a quality team, a very capable team, and a team who are not going to the semi-finals for reasons that aren't quite clear. The players have played well throughout and once more they have shown just what quality they have. The best team are out of the tournament. Apart from half an hour in the first half against Belgium, we have been excellent and haven't deserved this fate. The players have reacted well to the pressure and any criticism has been unfair. We had 60 odd per cent of the possession against the Netherlands and were unlucky with a penalty decision. The problem for us was the Netherlands match. I can't say anything about the Belgium-Netherlands game because I didn't see it. As for tonight, Israel's players aren't used to playing three matches in such a short space of time, so I expected them to be weaker than in their previous games – as long as we passed the ball quickly, we would win. Belgium haven't lost in 15 matches and it doesn't surprise me that they are doing so well.
Guy Levy, Israel coach
Today we suffered a defeat that was unpleasant to say the least, against a team who were better than us by two grades at least. Meeting a team like this reminds you how difficult this tournament is. I am proud we have got this far – we have reached a high standard of competition. Now we have to draw conclusions regarding the future of Israeli football, to see how we can progress from here. I cannot believe Portugal haven't reached the semi-finals. Playing like they did today, they are the best team in the group – technical, strong, fast. There were moments I thought it was Brazil, not Portugal. The key match for us was against Belgium, when we played better than them and should have won. That would have given us a platform for getting to the semi-finals or the Olympics. I don't think I have failed. I am enjoying this tournament and hope to experience another in the future. But we must be direct in our approach in order to reach these tournaments more regularly and also succeed in them. We have to produce players who are more physical and more technical. We can't have a situation where teams are at least two levels above us.
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