Portugal begin with win against England
Thursday, 18 June 2015
England 0-1 Portugal
João Mário pounced on 57 minutes to give Portugal an opening win against England in Group B and maintain their perfect run.
Article top media content
• João Mário pounces on 57 minutes to give Portugal opening Group B win
• Goal on rebound after Bernardo Silva hits post; Portugal have 11 perfect wins in campaign
• José Sá makes a number of good saves, notably from Harry Kane in first half
• Early game: Italy 1-2 Sweden
• Next matches: Sweden v England, Portugal v Italy (Sunday)
First England lost forward Saido Berahino to injury, then they lost their opening match of this UEFA European Under-21 Championship as Portugal made a winning start in Group B.
It was a victory earned by a goal from midfielder João Mário after 57 minutes. The chance came about when Luke Garbutt, trying to make an interception in the box, inadvertently teed up Bernardo Silva. The No10 rolled his shot against the post but the ball ran out to João Mário who found the net.
Despite having twice as many shots on target, it capped a disappointing day for England who had announced the loss of Berahino, the top scorer in qualifying, at lunchtime. That was a fresh setback for a side already missing defender John Stones through concussion.
That said, there had been encouraging signs for both sides early on. Jack Butland made an excellent early reaction save after Liam Moore had deflected a Ricardo Esgaio cross goalward. At the other end Sá beat away a Nathan Redmond shot after good work down England’s right. Both England wingers were looking bright, with Jesse Lingard, deputising for Berahino, firing two shots just off target.
Berahino was a spectator here yet in Harry Kane, England still have a genuine attacking threat and on 34 minutes he turned and drew a diving save from Sá before flashing another shot wide soon after.
Portugal, who won all ten qualifying games, looked the more assured side on the ball but their shooting was rather more wayward with playmaker Bernardo and Ivan Cavaleiro both failing to make more of good openings.
England started the second period brightly with Redmond testing Sá once more before James Ward-Prowse curled a free-kick just wide. Instead, though, Portugal got the breakthrough and although Kane threatened with a couple of half-chances in a late rally, Rui Jorge's men had the points and their first U21 win against England since 2003.