England overcome Portugal to reach third final
Sunday, 18 May 2014
Portugal 0-2 England
Saved by the woodwork three times in the opening period, England struck twice in the second half to reach a third Under-17 final.
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England are through to a third UEFA European Under-17 Championship final following a 2-0 defeat of Portugal.
Though the 2010 winners rode their luck for much of the first half, they emerged from the break a far greater threat and prevailed thanks to goals from Dominic Solanke and Patrick Roberts, who have both now found the net three times in Malta. Portugal – who had previously conceded only once in nine games in this campaign – head home, while England can look forward to playing the Netherlands in Wednesday's showpiece.
It could have been so different had John Peacock's side not survived a brief barrage after the quarter-hour mark. Gonçalo Rodrigues was first to bear down on Freddie Woodman's goal but did not connect cleanly with his shot, allowing the England keeper to save with his legs. The Young Lions' No1 made no such intervention a moment later, watching on as Diogo Gonçalves – who had cleverly isolated Tafari Moore – smashed against a post from a narrow angle.
Barely 60 seconds had passed when Alexandre Silva, latching onto an impudent pass from João Carvalho, lacked composure and blazed over. Rúben Neves's thunderous 19th-minute effort was a touch lower but came back off the crossbar. The woodwork also denied Gonçalves just before the break, his delightful shot bouncing off an upright and into Woodman's arms.
England, now without Adam Armstrong, the top scorer in qualifying who was forced off through injury, mustered only a wayward Solanke header in the opening period. Armstrong's replacement, Joshua Onomah could have made a swift impact but missed the target when presented with a presentable opening just after the interval.
It mattered not, though, for Solanke – deployed as a striker after Armstrong's departure – hit the net on 52 minutes. Taylor Moore clipped a straight ball through from defence and the Chelsea FC player controlled exquisitely before dinking over Fábio Duarte.
One of Portugal's substitutes, Buta, also nearly had a decisive impact, but his cross was headed wide by Gonçalves. Roberts was more fortunate at the other end, dancing in from the right – as is his wont – before unleashing a shot which ricocheted off Rúben Dias and looped over Fábio Duarte. Gonçalves's wasteful close-range effort late on summed up the evening for Emilio Peixe's charges.