Portugal failed to reach the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals despite a 3-1 win against England at the Hardturm stadium in Zürich.
Even though they overwhelmed their opponents with a superb display of flowing, attacking football, a 0-0 draw between Switzerland and Italy in tonight's other Group 1 game means that Portugal bow out of the competition along with England. Having finished level on points with Switzerland, Portugal are eliminated because they lost 2-0 to the hosts on Monday.
Agostinho Vieira de Oliveira's Portugal side showed their class from the outset and were ahead after just seven minutes through Filipe Teixeira. Neca headed a sweet António Semedo cross back to the striker who made no mistake in beating Paul Robinson in the England goal with a fierce, low shot.
That early goal saw Portugal quickly settle and midfield player Hugo Viana and the excellent Semedo tormented England with some fine passing movements before Portugal scored their second goal from the penalty spot after 20 minutes. Semedo jinked into the England penalty area from the right flank only to be sent to ground by a Paul Konchesky challenge. UD Salamanca striker Aziza Makukula stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick, which he slotted calmly past Robinson.
At this point, it looked as though Portugal would score every time they pushed forward, and Makukula should certainly have added to their lead after 34 minutes when he was given a free header at the back post from Hugo Viani's corner. England brought on Newcastle United FC forward Shola Amoebi just after the half hour and he quickly developed an understanding with the impressive Alan Smith as David Platt's side finally began to mount some resistance towards the end of the first half.
A minute after Robinson had fended off a good, angled drive from Jorge Ribiero, England were level. On 43 minutes, Ameobi burst down the left flank and fed a ball to Smith inside the Portugal penalty area. The Leeds United AFC striker steadied himself, sidestepped and prodded the ball past Sérgio Leite to offer England a half-time lifeline.
England certainly looked more disciplined in the second half, and Smith could easily have levelled proceedings after 50 minutes when a good ball from David Prutton sent him through on goal. However, with just the goalkeeper to beat, he drove wide of Sérgio Leite's right-hand post.
A minute later Makukula should have scored at the other end as he managed to crash a shot into Robinson from barely five metres with the goal gaping in front of him. For the remainder of the game, Portugal defended deep and denied England the space to make the best use of their strikers.
Portugal wrap it up
After 69 minutes, the result was sealed as Hugo Viana got the reward for his sterling efforts with a goal. The inventive Sporting Clube de Portugal midfield player outstripped Prutton on the right side of the England penalty area before putting a fierce low shot past Robinson. England continued to press to get something out of the game, but Portugal held firm for the remaining 20 minutes and were pushing forward again as the final whistle blew.
'Team for the future'
"It was a very closely fought game and we did well to beat an aggressive England side," said Vieira de Oliveira after the game. "I think England can look forward to the future with hope and I also think that we have showed that we have a very good team for the future. The big disappointment is being eliminated by such a small margin."
'They will learn'
England manager Platt had no complaints about the result. "We paid the price for a very poor start and we did not get going for the first half an hour," he said. "At this level it is a thin line between success and failure but we have now got to look forward if these players are to operate at the highest levels of the game. They are going to get more disappointments than this in their careers - this is something they will learn from."