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Portugal and Greece edge into elite round

Portugal recovered from a difficult start to top qualifying round Group 3 on home soil with a 1-1 draw against Greece, who pipped Azerbaijan to second place on head-to-head record.

Greece and Portugal celebrate their mutual progress
Greece and Portugal celebrate their mutual progress ©Carlos Vidigal

Portugal topped UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round Group 3 on home soil, and the team that held them 1-1 on the final day, Greece, pipped Azerbaijan to second place on head-to-head record.

Going into the last set of games, Portugal had four points, Georgia and Greece three and Azerbaijan one. Azerbaijan hit form with a 3-0 defeat of Georgia but Greece held Portugal 1-1 and both of those sides will be in the 30 November elite round draw.

Things began badly for Greece with a 1-0 loss to Georgia while two goals in the last 12 minutes for Portugal salvaged an ultimately crucial 2-2 draw with Azerbaijan. Greece then had a 41st-minute Mavroudis Bougaidis goal to thank for a hard-earned 1-0 win against Azerbaijan that eventually proved the decisive result, and Portugal beat Georgia 3-0.

Georgia's win against Greece meant that they still held matters in their own hands on the final day, but Aleksandr Gross put Azerbaijan ahead on 54 minutes and two late Tural Isgandarov goals sealed victory. However, it was all in vain for Azerbaijan as at the Algarve Stadium, built for UEFA EURO 2004, Portugal and Greece drew, Filipe Barros's early goal cancelled out on 49 minutes by Apostolos Vellios.

Hélio Sousa, the Portugal coach, told UEFA.com: "We were expecting some difficulties and had to wait to get through them, but we bounced back then thanks to our bravery and the unity of the squad. We proved on pitch that we were the best side in this mini-tournament and ended up top of the group, but I have to say that I was expecting more points."

Greece coach Leonidas Vokolos had at his disposal several members of the squad he led to last season's European U17 finals, and reflected: "We came here with a lot of problems because we were missing four regular starters and because this team is new. We didn't start well by losing to Georgia and we knew that we had two finals then. In the end, considering what we were up against, I am very happy to qualify."

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