Portugal are the new U19 Futsal EURO champions after coming back from two goals down to dethrone Spain.
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Portugal battled back from two goals down to win the UEFA European Under-19 Futsal Championship final in Poreč, Croatia, and end Spain's monopoly over the title in the third edition.
Match in brief: Portugal celebrate comeback
Portugal, who fell 2-0 down to Spain in their opening group encounter last Sunday before prevailing 5-3, seemed to be making the early running tonight. But, less than five minutes in, Pol Salas pounced on a loose pass and, although his initial shot was saved by Guilherme Cintra, the keeper was powerless to keep out the follow-up.
Shortly afterwards, Cintra stopped a Miguel Ángel Vicente strike, only for Javi Martínez to play the corner back to Salas, who lashed the ball in to double the lead. Duarte Correira then made a crucial block from Gonzalo Santa Cruz, but Portugal had one back before the midway point of the half thanks to a superb free-kick by captain Lúcio Jr.
Now Portugal were in the ascendancy, and Pau López did well to deny Andriy Dzyalochynskyy. However, just before half-time, Andriy did finally equalise, stretching to touch in Bruno Maier's drive.
Spain captain Adrián Tapias so nearly restored their lead early in the second period, hitting the post then slipping as he tried to turn the rebound into an empty net. Victor Ramos also came close, as did Pedro Santos at the other end.
Portugal edged ahead in the 27th minute from a corner move that ended with Salas turning Pedro Marques's centre into his own net. It looked certain to be 4-2 shortly after, but somehow Pau López turned over Andriy's effort from point-blank range.
The holders were pushing hard to retain their trophy yet were almost caught out when Cintra embarked on a solo run and only just missed the target. Instead, it was Tomás Colaço who doubled Portugal's cushion with a ten-metre penalty and, as Spain went all-out, Lúcio Jr rolled the ball into an empty net to confirm victory as well as his status as Player of the Tournament and finals top scorer.
Pedro Santos completed the scoring to ensure Portugal reversed the 6-2 scoreline by which Spain beat them in the 2022 final after extra time.
Lúcio Rocha, Portugal captain and Player of the Tournament: "It's a dream come true. We've been waiting for this for so long. We've worked every day, and there were moments where we thought it'd come to an end, but here I am as a European champion with my team-mates and this great team.
[On the comeback] "We are Portugal, we muck in together. We have confidence because, if we didn't have it, where would that get us?
"It means a lot [to be Player of the Tournament] but this award, as I've already said, isn't that relevant because I won it thanks to my team. I dedicate it to my team, colleagues, family and friends."
Tomás Colaço, Portugal goalscorer: "It's an indescribable feeling. Everyone has put in so much work; we really deserve it. It's good to know that hard work pays off.
[On his ten-metre penalty goal] "I worked on that moment a lot, for a long time. Luckily it came off in an important game. I missed the last two – that was ticking away in the back of my mind – but everything happens for a reason. I know I mentioned the others, but now I've scored in an important game.
[On reversing the scoreline from the 2022 final] "Spain are a strong team. Last year, we made it to the final; it’s a great achievement, but this year we did everything possible and I'm so happy that we made it."
Albert Canillas, Spain coach: "Congratulations to Portugal. It was a great match. We started really well, but the two goals we could have avoided in the final made the difference. In the second half, we kept playing well, even after we conceded the third goal. [After 4-2] with the flying goalkeeper, we didn't play well."
Portugal: Cintra (GK), Andriy, Bruno Maier, Lúcio Jr, Diogo Silva; Carrera (GK), Duarte, Ricardo Marques, Carrilho, Macedo, Pedro Santos, Tomás Colaço, Pedro Marques, Serra
Spain: Pau López (GK), Pol Cano, Roger, Tapias, Juanico; José Javier (GK), Salas, Miguel, Rubén Rodó, Ramos, Javi, Santa Cruz, Soler, Alejandro
- Portugal have ended Spain's grip on this title from 2019 and 2022 (the second edition was postponed a year due to COVID-19).
- Lúcio Jr's goals in the showpiece made him finals top scorer on five (equalling the mark for both 2019 and 2022).
- Lúcio Jr also struck against Spain and France in the group stage as well as the semi-final winner versus Slovenia. In all, he appeared in 11 U19 Futsal EURO games for Portugal (including 2022 and 2023 qualifying) and scored in nine of them, his career tally of 12 the new all-time best.
- Salas only had one international goal, in a friendly, for Spain before tonight.
- Tomás Colaço, by reaching six all-time finals goals, equals Juanito Moreno's record.
- Ricardo Marques, Bruno Maior, Tiago Macedo, Pedro Santos and Tomás Colaço also played in Portugal's 2022 final defeat by Spain, for whom Tapias and Juanito Moreno featured. All are level on two final appearances with Nicolás Marrón, a winner with Spain in 2019 and 2022.
- Albert Canillas coached Spain in all three finals; Portugal's José Luís Mendes was also his opposite number last year.
- Portugal set a new record of 48 goals in the tournament, including qualifying, beating their mark of 45 from 2022.
- Spain's 5-3 loss to Portugal on Matchday 1 was their first defeat in this tournament, including qualifying. This was their second.
- Portugal are yet to lose a match in this competition over 40 minutes but did fall to Spain in final extra time last year (having departed on penalties to Croatia in the 2019 semi-finals).