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Clinical Croatia cruise through

Portugal 0-5 Croatia
The finals debutants claimed second place in Group B thanks to a devastating display and a Zvonko Pamić hat-trick.

Clinical Croatia cruise through
Clinical Croatia cruise through ©UEFA.com

Croatia reached the UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finals on their tournament debut as a devastating display of attacking football – and a Zvonko Pamić hat-trick – blew away Portugal in Bayeux.

Needing just a point to reach the last four for the first time since 2003, Ilídio Vale's team never recovered from falling behind to Franko Andrijašević's 19th-minute penalty, Pamić swiftly heading a second and making it three with a swerving free-kick before the interval. Croatia lost captain Renato Kelić to a red card early in the second half but increased their lead through Filip Ozobić before Pamić completed his hat-trick with a thunderous effort as Ivica Grnja's team claimed second place in Group B, setting up a semi-final meeting with the winners of Group A, France, on Tuesday.

Portugal initially looked the more threatening team, Rúben Pinto and Danilo firing narrowly off target while Croatia goalkeeper Matej Delač dived to his right to push away Sana's low shot. The game changed completely midway through the opening period, however, Ozobić getting goalside of Roderick and going down under the defender's challenge. Andrijašević stepped up to convert the spot-kick via the hand of Tiago Maia.

Eight minutes later Portugal's woes deepened, Dario Rugašević delivering a deep cross from the left for Pamić to race in unnoticed at the back post and head past the exposed goalkeeper. Although Delač then had to make fine stops to deny Sérgio Oliveira and Nuno Reis, the latter with the help of his right-hand post, the next goal was also Croatian, Pamić finding the net again with a swerving 30-metre free-kick in the 37th minute.

Portugal were given a numerical advantage in the 54th minute when Kelić handled with substitute Baldé threatening to break clear and Delač then denied Roderick from point-blank range. Portuguese momentum was punctured in the 67th minute as Croatia countered swiftly, Šime Vrsaljko sprinting down the right and crossing for Ozobić to turn in. Two minutes later Ozobić played in Pamić to make it five from the edge of the area, crowning a memorable afternoon for both the players and their country.

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