Portugal's U21 European Championship qualification campaign is back on track after a 3-2 victory against Norway at the Marienlyst Stadion in Drammen.

Fabio Vieira and Jota put Portugal 2-0 before Diogo Queirós was sent off, Florentino Luís extending the lead in the second half as Portugal survived a late Norweigan fight back.

Portugal capitalise on early pressure

Portugal got off to a great start and took the lead in the 2nd minute. Jota beat his man on the left wing and found Fabio Vieira, the Porto midfielder taking a touch with his chest before a left foot volley gave goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson no chance.

Diogo Costa tipped a shot from Emil Bohinen behind for a corner as the action resumed at the other end. Thierry Correia’s cross narrowly missed the far post but Portugal soon extended their lead.

Vieira's lovely ball over the defence released Rafael Leão, his cut back to the penalty spot finding Jota who made it 2-0. Diogo Queirós earned himself a caution for barging over Kristian Thorstvedt, Vieira producing another delicious pass to Leão who saw his shot saved.

Careless Queiros sent off

In the 29th minute Portugal were reduced to 10 men. Diogo Queirós made a clumsy challenge on Thorstvedt and made no protests as referee Sergey Lapochkin produced a second yellow and gave the Portuguese captain his marching orders.

Florentino Luís temporarily partnered Diogo Leite in central defence before Rafael Leão made way for Lille centre-back Thiago Djalo. Hugo Vetlesen shot over the bar as Norway had the majority of possession to close out the first half but were unable to test Diogo Costa.

Portugal playing conservatively

Rui Jorge’s intentions were clear to begin the second half as Portugal attempted to keep Norway at arm’s reach while waiting for counter attacking opportunities. Francisco Trincão replaced Jota in the 55th minute to take up the solo attacking role and smashed a shot that Klaesson tipped onto the crossbar. 

Birk Risa’s header was comfortably saved by Costa before Trincão failed to exploit a fast break opportunity. Aron Dønnum shot wide and Risa couldn’t connect at the back post as Norway went for broke.

Portugal extended their lead against the run of play in the 78th minute with Florentino Luís instrumental. The Benfica midfielder started the move and continued into the box where he headed Fabio Vieira’s cross past Klaesson to seemingly put the game out of Norway’s reach.

Norway fight back

It wasn’t to be however, Christian Borchgrevink saw a shot blocked before Florentino took down Dønnum for a clear penalty in the 83rd minute. Kristian Thorstvedt stepped up and sent Diogo Costa the wrong way to give Norway belief.

Rui Jorge made two substitutions as Miguel Luís and Fabio Vieira made way for Gedson Fernandes and Dany Mota. Jens Hauge fired over from close range after Costa had clawed the ball off the bar but the hosts would get more opportunities to score.

Norway set up a grandstand finish when Jørgen Larsen converted Thorstvedt’s cross in the 91st minute. The hosts created one last chance to earn a draw but Leo Oestigaard’s header was comfortably saved by Costa.

Rui Jorge can’t be faulted for sitting on the 2-0 lead after Diogo Queirós was sent off. Playing with 10 men for an hour in cold and wet conditions was always going to present challenges, fortunately Florentino’s goal turned out to be the match winner.

Man of the match

Fabio Vieira - The Porto youngster produced some great skill to score the early opener and was involved in all of Portugal’s goals. Released Leão who set up Jota for Portugal’s second before providing the cross for Florentino Luís’ goal.

Notable mentions to Jota who set up Vieira for Portugal’s opener and scored the second. Jota was an isolated figure up front after Diogo Queirós’ red card and made way for Francisco Trincão in the 55th minute. Central midfielders Florentino Luís, Miguel Luís and Vitor Ferreira all had strong performances.

What's next?

Portugal have played arguably their most difficult fixtures in the group having traveled to Belarus, Netherlands and Norway. Rui Jorge's side are three points behind Netherlands and will have to wait until late March 2020 for their next fixtures when they host Cyprus and Netherlands.  

Video Highlights of  Norway 2-3 Portugal UEFA U21 Euro 2021 qualifier

Portugal U21 Formation and line up

Portugal 4-2-3-1: Diogo Costa - Thierry Correia,  Diogo Queirós, Diogo Leite, Tomas Tavares - Florentino Luís, Vitor Ferreira - Fabio Vieira (Dany Mota 84’) Miguel Luís (Gedson Fernandes 84’), Jota (Francisco Trincão 55’) - Rafael Leão (Tiago Djaló 35’)

Unused substitutes: João Virginia, Pedro Pereira, Daniel Bragança, Filipe Soares, Pedro Mendes

Coach: Rui Jorge

By Matthew Marshall

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“He is a person who is respected, who respects others, and above all he is a winner.”

Fernando Gomes
(FPF president upon announcing the contract extension of Portugal coach Fernando Santos)