Portugal beat Switzerland 3-0 at Stadion Stožice to cruise into the U21 European Championship quarter-finals. The victory made it three consecutive victories, the Esperanças winning Group D without conceding a goal.
Rui Jorge’s side completely outclassed the Swiss in Ljubljana, Diogo Queirós opening the scoring before second half goals to Trincão & Francisco Conceição. PortuGOAL’s Matthew Marshall breaks down the match and Portugal’s successful group stage campaign.
Portugal start strong
Rui Jorge made three changes to the side that defeated England. Daniel Bragança replaced Florentino Luís in the holding midfield role, Trincão came in for Gedson Fernandes and Dany Mota made way for Tiago Tomás up front.
Portugal needed just three minutes to take the lead. Diogo Queirós remained in the box after a free kick, heading Vitinha’s first time cross past a stranded Anthony Racioppi.
Vitinha headed wide after some nice interplay with Tomás before Switzerland fashioned their first chance. Dan Ndoye fired into the side netting from a tight angle.
Trincão’s effort lacked power and was easily saved before what proved to be Switzerland's best chance of the match. Toni Domgjoni shot wide from a promising position, but the action would soon return to the other end.
Diogo Dalot saw his shot blocked after some nice build up play, Pedro Gonçalves releasing Tiago Tomás who couldn’t beat an onrushing Racioppi. Trincão shot wide from distance as Portugal entered the break having had 70% possession.
Portugal began the second half as they finished the first, superior in every department and making Switzerland chase the ball. In the 60th minute it was 2-0.
Fábio Vieira’s clever through ball evaded the Swiss defence, Tomás forcing a save from Racioppi with Trincão on hand to tap into an empty net.
That signaled a triple substitution from Rui Jorge as Vieira, Trincão and Tomás made way for João Mário, Francisco Conceição and Gonçalo Ramos.
Three minutes later it was 3-0. Conceição’s pressure on Jasper van der Werff paid off, the diminutive winger winning the ball and producing a deft finish past Racioppi.
Switzerland’s match took another turn for the worse when Miro Muheim was booked twice in rapid succession and sent off.
Gedson Fernandes and Filipe Soares replaced Pedro Gonçalves and Vitinha before a moment to sum up Switzerland’s performance. A corner fell to Domgjoni, his shot sailing well wide as Portugal cruised to the finish line.
Portugal too good
The win against Switzerland resembled Portugal’s performances in the group stage. Croatia came closest to scoring, but Diogo Costa didn’t have a save to make against England and Switzerland.
The Esperanças largely controlled matches from start to finish, dominating possession and showing superior technical quality, teamwork and desire. They hardly gave the opposition a sniff in front of goal.
Croatia had scored 37 goals in the qualification campaign, England 34 and Switzerland 26 goals. Portugal’s ability to make three quality sides look ordinary was an impressive feat.
Rui Jorge deserves credit
Rui Jorge deserves a massive amount of credit for Portugal’s success in Slovenia. He made the right call by dropping Florentino for Daniel Bragança and successfully integrated Fábio Vieira and Trincão into the starting side against Switzerland.
The tactical fluidity of Jorge's team was evident throughout, his players working as a solid unit and always available to close the opposition down.
On the rare occasion that a defender made a mistake, someone was there to clean up the mess.
Many would have thought it impossible that Portugal could perform at their peak without Florentino, Gedson and Rafael Leão in the starting side. They did just that with Fábio Vieira, Vitinha, Pedro Gonçalves, Dany Mota and Tiago Tomás stepping up to the plate.
Portugal take on Italy in the quarter-finals at Stadion Stožice, Ljubljana on 31 May. If they beat the Italians they will face the winners of Spain vs Croatia in Maribor three days later for a spot in the final.
Portugal U21 Line Up (4-1-4-1): Diogo Costa - Thierry Correia, Diogo Queirós, Diogo Leite, Diogo Dalot - Daniel Bragança - Trincão (Francisco Conceição 62’), Vitinha (Filipe Soares 73’), Fábio Vieira (João Mário 62’), Pedro Gonçalves (Gedson Fernandes 71’) - Tiago Tomás (Gonçalo Ramos 62’)
Unused substitutes: João Virginia, Luís Maximiano, Tiago Djaló, Tomás Tavares, Pedro Pereira, Florentino Luís, Dany Mota
[1-0] – Diogo Queirós 3'
[2-0] – Trincão 60’
[3-0] – Francisco Conceição 65’