Coach Joaquim Milheiro kneels to the ground and holds his face; he can’t control his happiness. He know that the game is for sure over now, he knows that his team is going to the final of U19 UEFA Championship.
Portugal had just scored their fourth goal in the semi-final match against Norway. Soon after they would get their fifth and tie a record for the biggest win in at a final four match at this tournament: 5-0. Before the game there were predictions of the results amongst the media. Portugal were the favourites but nobody predicted it would end like this. They had beat Italy 5-1 in the group stages but they were eleven against ten for a long period in that match.
The main goal for Norway was clearly to be tight at the back as Luis Pimenta set up with five defenders against his compatriots. They were going to try and keep a clean sheet for as long as possible. They goalless draw against Spain in the final group stage game had given them confidence, maybe too much confidence.
Goalkeeper Magnus Rugland Ree’s held the ball at his feet for too long. Before he knew it, Gustavo Sá had pressed the ball into the back of the net.
That was a big blow for Norway, after only four minutes they were a goal down to Portugal, who had topped group A. It was a blow that Norway couldn’t recover from.
In the 17th minute, Norway made another mistake. This time Erik Flatkaker handballed inside the box after a corner. Hugo Felix, one of the star of the tournaments, went to the spot confidently and scored. Rodrigo Ribeiro then scored the third goal after just over 30 minutes. The defending in that third goal was very soft for the Norwegians.
Joaquim Milheiro’s side didn’t have to play their best today, but they still won very easily. Portugal could afford to relax in the second half, and the manager chose to substitute the three players that were already booked, but still managed to score two more goals. Ribeiro got his second and then Carlos Borges was rewarded for his great performance by scoring the fifth goal.
The Portuguese team has won every game at the tournament in Malta so far and they are very deservedly in the final. Norway go home with a big defeat on their back, but they’ve had some memorable moments during their time on the sunny island. To make it to the semi-final is an achievement in itself.
EYES ON THE NATIONAL STADIUM
Portugal will have their eyes on the National Stadium in Ta’ Qali tonight as Spain and Italy will meet in the other semi-final. It is also the stadium where the final will be played.
Portugal made it to the final in both 2018 and 2019; they won once and lost once. The first one was against Italy where they won 4-3 after extra time, but then they lost to Spain the year after, 2-0. Who will their opponents be on the big day on Sunday?
Credit: AIPS Media