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Austria hold firm to deny Portugal

Austria 0-0 Portugal
Dominik Thalhammer's side produced a disciplined defensive performance to thwart their opponents and earn an opening Group A draw.

Austria hold firm to deny Portugal
Austria hold firm to deny Portugal ©UEFA.com

Austria produced an excellent defensive display to earn a goalless draw with Portugal in UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship Group A.

Making their tournament debut, Austria successfully nullified Portugal's early enthusiasm to keep the scores level. The second period bore an uncanny resemblance to the first, as Susana Cova's team continued to force the issue while Austria launched only sporadic raids forward – an approach that was eventually rewarded despite a red card for Johanna Kislick shortly after the hour.

Cova's wish to "spread magic at this tournament" was fulfilled in the opening exchanges by adroit dribbler Leandra Pereira, her teasing cross finding Francisca Cardoso, whose looping header was cradled by Carolin Größinger. Midfielder Mariana Fong took a more direct route to goal, stinging the palms of Größinger with a venomous long-range effort.

A possible chink in their armour was exposed at the other end, however, as defender Katharina Naschenweng ghosted into the area unmarked from a corner only to head over. Portugal quickly wrestled back the initiative, building patiently and diligently from defence in an attempt to grind down their opponents. When clear-cut chances failed to materialise, captain Nadine Cordeiro tested her luck from 25 metres but Größinger was comfortably her equal.

Dominik Thalhammer's side threatened to break free from their defensive shackles after the break, allowing Margarida Sousa a free shot on goal at the back post; Größinger was again up to the task. Rita Cheganças's sublime free-kick was then expertly tipped around a post and Portugal's task became easier when Kislick received a second yellow card for a foul on Sara Monteiro. The dismissal only served to strengthen Austria's resolve, though, as they held on for a point.