Portugal coach Hélio Sousa announced that "today we became a great team" as his ever timely side came from 2-0 down to snatch a finals spot from Belgium's grasp.
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Portugal overturned a 2-0 half-time deficit against Belgium to earn a thrilling victory that secures their place in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final tournament for the third year running.
Not for the first time in their topsy-turvy elite round campaign, Hélio Sousa's charges were up against it after Charly Musonda created two goals in as many minutes late in the first half for Pieter Gerkens and Siebe Schrijvers. Portugal met the challenge head on, and within 11 minutes of the restart two quality André Silva headers had made it all-square and left them in the box seat.
"It just wasn't us in the first half," said Sousa. "Even if we lost, I just wanted the team to be themselves. At the break I reminded them that they weren't playing like themselves, and they woke up, a fantastic response taking us through. We started applying our normal pressure – that was the main and decisive change to turning the match around. Today we became a great team, winning after such a challenge from Belgium."
Nuno Santos completed the turnaround on the counterattack four minutes from time, Portugal's second 3-2 victory in three days having squandered a 2-0 lead against Wales before Rafa restored the lead with a last-gasp winner. The Group 7 hosts' 3-0 opening-day victory over Greece was more handsome, but even there Portugal were struggling against opponents down to ten men until Ivo Rodrigues made the breakthrough 12 minutes from time.
Belgium always lurked, a frustrating 1-1 draw with Wales and 4-2 victory over Greece leaving Gert Verheyen with a chance on the final day. They were taking it, too, at half-time; only for Portugal to snatch a finals place from their grasp.