Sandro strike means Spain beat Portugal
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Spain 1-0 Portugal
The holders ended their opening Group A game with ten men, but crucially three points thanks to Sandro Ramírez's strike.
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Despite being reduced to ten men late on in their opening UEFA European Under-19 Championship encounter against Portugal, Spain got the defence of their title off to the perfect start with a 1-0 win against their Iberian neighbours.
These teams produced a spectacular 3-3 draw when they met in last year's U19 group stage, yet this time around it took a solitary strike from Sandro Ramírez to stem the disappointment of Héctor Bellerín's late red card and settle a no less entertaining Group A encounter.
Winners of six of the last 11 editions of this tournament, Spain should have taken the lead in the 12th minute. Having inadvertently passed straight to Moi Gómez, Portuguese defender Rudinilson Silva cut a relieved figure when Álvaro Vadillo latched onto a through pass only to slice wide of the upright.
La Rojita were not long in ruing that miss. Working tirelessly throughout the encounter, Real Madrid CF midfielder José Rodríguez spotted Sandro's forward run before lofting a pass over the opposing defence which the striker expertly trapped before calmly rolling under the advancing Bruno Varela.
Runners-up in 2003, Portugal rallied with Alexandre Guedes twice off target either side of two Fede Vico misses. Spain briefly regained the upper hand after the restart, Jaime Vadillo heading narrowly wide, but Emilio Peixe's side continued to threaten with João Cancelo's curling left-footed strike palmed out by goalkeeper Rubén Blanco.
The introduction of tricky FC Barcelona winger Adama Traoré offered the Spanish a different dimension in their search of a second which ultimately eluded them just as an equaliser did their opponents when Luís Rafael smashed wide in the closing stages. A valuable victory for Spain was only slightly soured by Bellerín's red card for a lunge at Ricardo Horta.