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Portugal pair savour semi-final success

Their semi-final shoot-out roles could scarcely have been more different but Portugal's substitute keeper Tiago Sá and captain Tomás Podstawski were united in celebration.

Tiago Sá came off the bench to play a pivotal role for Portugal
Tiago Sá came off the bench to play a pivotal role for Portugal ©Sportsfile

Tiago Sá believes Portugal should enjoy the moment after reaching their first UEFA European Under-19 Championship final in 11 years by finally ending Serbia's hold on the trophy.

Hélio Sousa's side finally prevailed after more than two hours in Felscut, winning the penalty shoot-out 4-3 with their substitute goalkeeper playing a pivotal role. "I'm very happy, especially for the team," said Tiago Sá, who saved the final spot kick from Serbia midfielder Sergej Milinković-Savić. "We followed our coach's instructions and here we are in the final. It's a joyous occasion."

The SC Braga goalkeeper came on early in extra time after André Moreira had turned his ankle over, and was quickly into the fray, tipping over a Milan Jokić free-kick. "There were mixed feelings when I came on. On one hand I was sorry for my injured team-mate, and on the other I was happy that I could help. I tried to stay positive, so I could do the best for us and fortunately I managed to do so."

One player particularly relieved of the substitute's help was Portugal captain Tomás Podstawski, whose penalty was saved by Predrag Rajković. "It was a very physical match, but we knew it would be," the midfielder said. "Serbia played a very direct style but we were prepared for that too. We played well and had some good opportunities; we didn't score but we defended well and were organised. We deserved to win."

Portugal celebrate their victory
Portugal celebrate their victory©Sportsfile

Portugal's celebrations were in stark contrast to their emotions after the teams met in the last four a year ago, when they were on the wrong end of a shoot-out against Serbia. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and this year was ours," Podstawski said. "We deserved it this year, but you can't say we didn't deserve it last year either. That's the game. Today we were stronger. Penalties are not just a question of luck, but also of quality and a strong mentality. Today we were better."

While Podstawski is certain to play in Thursday's final barring something unforeseen, Tiago Sá's participation may depend on whether Moreira recovers – yet the teenager is taking it all in his stride. "I don't know if I'll play or not. First we will enjoy this victory, which was very important for us. Tomorrow is a new day and it's then we will start preparing for the final."