Portugal took another step towards the 2021 UEFA European U21 Championship after a comfortable 3-0 win against Belarus. Jota forced an early own goal at the Estádio Municipal de Portimão with penalties to Fábio Vieira and Gonçalo Ramos wrapping it up.
Portugal U21 4-0 Belarus U21
Portugal required just three minutes to take the lead in Portimão. Diogo Queiros’ long pass found Jota, he played a neat 1-2 with Gedson Fernandes before delivering a dangerous cross that Dmitri Prishchepa turned into his own net.
Fábio Vieira’s shot was saved as Portugal boxed Belarus into their own half. Jota fired over from close range in the 15th minute and four minutes later the lead was extended.
Another long ball into the box towards Vitinha hit Artem Shkurdyuk’s hand, Fábio Vieira making no mistake from the penalty spot. Long balls were the order of the day for Rui Jorge’s side and they were causing Belarus plenty of problems.
Jota saw a shot deflected over the bar before Prishchepa was booked for bringing down Dany Mota. Fábio Vieira stepped up and rattled the free kick against the post.
Prishchepa was lucky to stay on the pitch after a late foul on Vieira who was proving unplayable. The Porto playmaker was replaced by Sporting CP sensation Pedro Gonçalves at half time.
The second half saw more domination from the Esperanças. A Nuno Mendes cross hit the woodwork, Gonçalves shot wide and Dany Mota’s weak shot was saved. Portugal continued to lay siege to Belarus’ goal, Jota and Dalot with shots saved before the substitutions started to flow.
Joelson Fernandes and João Mário replaced Jota and Diogo Dalot in the 68th minute, Vitinha and Dany Mota making way for Daniel Bragança and Gonçalo Ramos six minutes later.
Belarus fashioned their first chance in the 79th minute but Diogo Costa was alert to smother the shot. The action swiftly returned to the opposite end of the pitch.
Gonçalo Ramos and Bragança went close before Goncalves shot wide. Portugal’s efforts were rewarded in the 89th minute after Ramos drew a foul from Vladislav Solanovich, the Benfica striker stepping up and smashing home the penalty to seal the deal.
Portugal U21 are three points behind Group 7 leaders Netherlands with two matches remaining. Rui Jorge’s side can qualify as one of the five best runners-up by beating Cyprus on Sunday before taking on the Dutch on Wednesday.
Portugal U21 Line Up: Diogo Costa - Diogo Dalot (João Mário 68’), Diogo Leite, Diogo Queirós, Nuno Mendes - Vitinha (Daniel Bragança 74’), Florentino Luís, Gedson Fernandes - Fábio Vieira (Pedro Gonçalves 46’), Dany Mota, (Gonçalo Ramos 74’), Jota (Joelson Fernandes 68’)
Unused substitutes: Luís Maximiano, Pedro Pereira, Tomás Tavares, Rafael Leão