Portugal took their place in the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs with two games to spare courtesy of a 1-0 victory against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Having won their five previous fixtures in the section, Rui Jorge's side required another three points to be confirmed Group 8 winners. A fluent brand of attacking football underlined the visitors' intent and they were rewarded shortly after the hour when Liverpool FC defender Tiago Ilori produced an unerring finish.
It was mostly one-way traffic from the off in Skopje, André Gomes sending a shot against the woodwork on 28 minutes, before Stole Dimitrievski executed a fine save to deny Portugal winger Ricardo Esgaio from the spot. The FYROM No1 continued to impress after the break, repelling quickfire attempts from Gonçalo Paciência.
However, there was nothing he could do on 64 minutes as Llori finished with aplomb after taking receipt of Ricardo's fine pass. Portugal were rarely troubled from then on, seeing out proceedings to stride an insurmountable nine points clear of second-placed Israel.
"I'm not completely satisfied with our performance tonight," admitted Portugal coach Jorge. "It was an important game against tough opponents. Our main goal was to win and we eventually achieved that, which is the most important thing."
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.