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Portugal's unique feat in Finland

The same cohort that won Portugal the 2016 U17 title made history by adding the U19 title two years later in Finland.

Portugal's unique feat in Finland
Portugal's unique feat in Finland ©Sportsfile

As if their status as senior continental champions was not enough, Portugal made history with their victory at the 2018 UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Finland.

Just before winning UEFA EURO 2016, Portugal had tasted victory at Under-17 EURO in Azerbaijan. Ten of that squad were also in Finland as Portugal became the first nation to win the men's U19 title two years after taking the U17 crown with the same cohort.

Watch Portugal win the epic final

That it was the 1999 generation that achieved that feat is perhaps appropriate, as that year was the previous occasion in which Portugal had won this title, albeit in its former U18 guise. On that occasion they beat Italy in the final, and it was the Azzurrini who were Portugal's victims again this time in only the second of the 17 U19 deciders to go to extra time.

Both eventual finalists were in Group A and both won on the opening day, Portugal 3-1 against Norway and Italy defeating hosts Finland 1-0. Three days later both group games ended 3-2, Norway equalising in the last minute then scoring in added time to break Finland hearts, and Italy seeing off Portugal in a game of five second-half goals.

Still, Portugal bounced back to comfortably see off Finland 3-0. A late goal from Juventus's Moise Kean, famed as the first player born in the 2000s to play in either the UEFA Champions League or one of Europe's big five top divisions, gave Italy a 1-1 draw with Norway and first place.

Semi-final highlights: Ukraine 0-5 Portugal

There were 20 goals in that section, but 21 in Group B, and although holders England conceded just two minutes into their opener with Turkey, they were to win 3-2, while Ukraine defeated France 2-1 with a late Serhiy Buletsa strike. Ukraine then held England 1-1 while France hit form and ended Turkey's hopes with a 5-0 victory.

Incredibly, France were to repeat that scoreline against England to take themselves into the semi-finals ahead of the defending champions but behind Ukraine, 1-0 victors against Turkey. Three days later England also lost their grip on the FIFA U-20 World Cup they had lifted in 2017, beaten 3-0 in a play-off with Norway, who after an absence from the global championship dating back to 1993, earned the right to join Italy, Portugal, Ukraine, France and hosts Poland in the 2019 edition.

Semi-final highlights: Italy 2-0 France

Ukraine had been the only team in Group B to avoid losing 5-0 to France; in the first semi-final, they were beaten by that very scoreline by Portugal. France themselves were unable to reproduce their scoring form, going down 2-0 to Italy.

That set up an Italy-Portugal rematch, and in the highest scoring U19 finals since 2006, the best was saved until last. João Filipe gave Portugal the lead just before the interval and Francisco Trincão doubled the lead with 18 minutes left, only for Kean swiftly to strike twice and force extra time.

Filipe once more produced a goal just before the interval in the additional half hour, but although Gianluca Scamacca levelled, Pedro Correira made it 4-3 with 11 minutes left and Portugal won the joint highest-scoring UEFA men's youth final in history along with the Netherlands' 5-2 defeat of Germany in the 2011 U17s. Two years after that, the Netherlands were pipped to the 2013 U19 semis by Portugal, who now had a record all to themselves.