Clinical Portugal press on into last four
Friday, July 26, 2013
Portugal 4-2 Lithuania
Emílio Peixe's side missed out on first place in Group A, but an assured performance took them into the semi-finals for the first time since 2003.
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Portugal eased into the UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finals as a comfortable defeat of hosts Lithuania left Emílio Peixe's side second in Group A.
Having not reached the last four since 2003, Portugal kicked off holding the edge in the race for second place thanks to their emphatic win against the Netherlands on matchday two and within eight minutes they were ahead through Marcos Lopes' long-range effort. A Džiugas Petrauskas own goal on the stroke of half-time increased the advantage with Tobias Figueiredo adding another from the penalty spot soon after the interval and, though Gratas Sirgedas swiftly pulled one back, Carlos Mané made it 4-1 to set up a Monday meeting with Group B winners Serbia despite Sirgedas scoring again in added time.
Full of confidence having scored three late goals in their last outing, Portugal turned that momentum into an early lead, Lopes advancing unchecked and unleashing a low shot that squirmed beyond Tomas Švedkauskas. The hosts responded positively, Donatas Kazlauskas a particular threat down the left – cutting inside and sending one shot just too high – and delivering a free-kick that Justinas Januševskis headed straight at Bruno Varela, but Portugal always looked more potent.
The unmarked Mané turned over Alexandre Guedes' cross, before Leandro Silva shot straight at Švedkauskas after Bernardo Silva had beaten three players down the right. The goalkeeper then had to push behind another Leandro Silva shot, but there was nothing he could do when Petrauskas inadvertently turned a Guedes header from João Cancelo's deep cross – again down the right – into his own goal.
Figueiredo made it three from the penalty spot following Julius Aleksandravičius' handball as he blocked Bernardo Silva's shot, although this time Lithuania did reply immediately as Sirgedas' free-kick from the right evaded everybody to nestle in the far corner. Portugal remained unruffled, however, and were three goals clear again when Mané tapped in after Lopes had been denied by Švedkauskas. Sirgedas made it 4-2 with the final kick of the game but Portugal had ended the wait for a knockout place in style.