Portugal sink Scots to top of Group B
Friday, May 9, 2014
Scotland 0-2 Portugal
Goals from Renato Sanches and Luís Mata helped Emílio Peixe's men to a hard-fought win and early Group B leadership.
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Portugal got their UEFA European Under-17 Championship campaign off to a winning start as they battled past a resolute Scotland to set the early pace in Group B.
After Switzerland and Germany played out a draw in the section opener, the leadership was up for grabs and it was 2003 winners Portugal who took the initiative thanks to Renato Sanches's first-half effort from 25 metres. Luís Mata capitalised on a Robby McCrorie mistake late on to seal the points, meaning Emílio Peixe's men can advance to the last four with a victory against the Swiss on Monday, while Germany next await the Scots.
With the teams having only conceded one goal between them in the elite round, it was no surprise to see defences on top in the opening minutes at the Gozo Stadium, but after the initial feints and parries it was Portugal who asserted themselves. First Scotland captain Jack Breslin was forced to make a timely intervention to deny Alexandre Silva before Buta failed to find the target after losing his marker at a corner. The breakthrough arrived on 18 minutes when Sanches collected a loose ball, skipped past Cameron Ballantye and zipped a powerful low shot at goal which McCrorie got a hand to but was unable to keep out.
The goalkeeper repelled Silva moments later when the forward burst clear before Diogo Gonçalves sent an acrobatic volley just wide as Portugal looked to turn the screw. All Scotland had to show for their first-half toil was a wayward Scott Wright header, though they pressed after the restart with Joseph Thomson directing another headed attempt narrowly off target. McCrorie rebuffed Rúben Neves and Pedro Delgado, yet when the Scottish No1 rushed from his goal to deal with a long ball in the 78th minute, his clearance presented Mata with the chance to slot into an empty net from 40 metres and clinch an opening-day success.