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Lestienne strikes as Belgium down Portugal

Belgium 1-0 Portugal
Winger Maxime Lestienne scored the only goal but goalkeeper Koen Casteels helped the Red Devils preserve their lead.

Goalscorer Maxime Lestienne in action for Club Brugge
Goalscorer Maxime Lestienne in action for Club Brugge ©Getty Images

Belgium made a positive start in UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite round Group 1, a fine Maxime Lestienne finish seeing them beat Portugal 1-0 in Porec.

Portugal had looked the brighter side in the opening stages, but Marc Van Geersom's Belgium made the breakthrough on 25 minutes, Club Brugge KV winger Lestienne firing a loose ball home stylishly from ten metres after team-mate Marnick Vermijl had failed to find the target from closer range. Portugal dominated after the break but found KRC Genk goalkeeper Koen Casteels in fine form; he denied captain Rúben Pinto seven minutes after the break and was alive to the threat as João Amorim got a free-kick on target in the closing stages.

"Our goal was not to lose this match," said Van Geersom. "Our tactics were maybe not pretty but we wanted a victory and we got it. Now we have really good chance to win this group and get to the final tournament in Romania."

His opposite number Hélio Sousa added: "We made only one mistake in match. Belgium deserved their victory. We were trying to score a goal, but we didn't manage to do that; Belgium kept plenty of players in defence and that tactic worked great for them."

Belgium meet mini-tournament hosts Croatia in their next game, while Portugal take on Estonia, who also lost their opening fixture 1-0.