Portugal beat Iceland 1-0 in Reykjavík to make it three straight wins in the 2023 UEFA European U21 Championship qualifiers.

The hosts put up a brave effort at Víkingsvöllur, but failed to beat Celton Biai and couldn’t stop Fábio Vieira’s piece of individual skill in the 55th minute.

Iceland up for the fight

It was evident Portugal would not have things their own way as Iceland won two quick corners. The hosts had done their homework, limiting Fábio Vieira’s impact and staying close to Fábio Silva and Gonçalo Ramos.

The Esperanças fashioned the first chance of the game however, Fábio Silva sending Gonçalo Ramos through on goal with Jökull Andrésson coming out to smother his shot.

Iceland got into the game and started to create chances.

Bjarki Bjarkason tested Celton Biai who made a smart save at his near post, Sævar Magnússon getting past Eduardo Quaresma and forcing another save from Biai.

A free kick then fell to Magnússon but he couldn't beat Portugal's goalkeeper. Quaresma’s poor clearance saw Kristall Ingason go past Nuno Tavares, Biai sticking out a leg with yet another save.

Portugal had to wait until the 23rd minute for another opportunity,  Vitinha’s ball over the top finding Fábio Silva who fired a volley straight at Andrésson.

Magnússon was proving a real handful for Portugal’s defence. He got himself into a dangerous position but Quaresma did enough to thwart the chance.

There was one more chance for Portugal before half time, Ramos heading João Mário’s cross into Ísak Ólafsson.

Portugal take control

Kristall Ingason shot over the bar to start the second half but Portugal soon took control of proceedings.

Fábio Silva brought down Nuno Tavares’ cross and forced a save from Andrésson before the Esperanças took the lead in the 55th minute.

Iceland were the architects of their own demise. Finnur Pálmason’s poor pass went straight to Ramos, he headed the ball to Fábio Vieira who produced lovely touch before firing a volley past Andrésson from a tight angle.

The chances kept coming for Portugal as Ramos forced a save and Vitinha shot over the bar. Fábio Silva was replaced by Tiago Tomás in the 62nd minute.

Iceland had one of their best opportunities to score after Ingason released Magnússon but Quaresma made a crucial block. The action returned to the other end as Vieira’s peach of a pass found Ramos who volleyed over the bar from close range.

Rui Jorge made two changes in the 66th minute as André Almeida and Tiago Dantas were replaced by Paulo Bernardo and Afonso Sousa.

Ramos went on a great run and forced another save before Sousa and Vieira shot over the bar and Tomás saw a weak shot saved. Chances were then hard to come by until the closing stages of the match.

Vitinha’s clever free kick put Vieira into a dangerous position with Andrésson standing strong. Francisco Conceição replaced Ramos in the 88th minute before a frantic period of added time.

Baia came out of his goal to shut down Ingason before Friðriksson put the ball in the back of the net, Portugal breathing a sigh of relief as he was ruled to have fouled Portugal’s number 1.

Iceland had a dangerous free kick in the 95th minute and went close to equalising. Andrésson had abandoned his goal and got on the end of it, heading the ball into the danger zone where Gísli Unnarsson and Ingason were unable to connect as Portugal scrambled to preserve the clean sheet and three points.

There was still time for more drama. Fábio Vieira broke free with Andrésson nowhere to be seen, he unselfishlessly passed to Afonso Sousa who finished into an empty net, but was ruled offside due to a rule that makes no sense.

By Matthew Marshall

Line Up

Rui Jorge made no changes to the side that started against Liechenstein.

Portugal XI (4-3-1-2): Celton Biai - João Mário, Eduardo Quaresma, Tiago Djaló, Nuno Tavares - André Almeida (Afonso Sousa 66’), Tiago Dantas (Paulo Bernardo 66’), Vitinha - Fábio Vieira - Fábio Silva (Tiago Tomás 62’), Gonçalo Ramos (Francisco Conceição 88’)

Unused substitutes: João Gonçalves, Tomás Araújo, Tomás Tavares, Tomás Händel, Gonçalo Borges

Coach: Rui Jorge


[1-0] - Fábio Vieira 55’

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“I’m proud to be captain of this team, which gives everything on the pitch.”

Sebastián Coates
(Sporting captain speaking after 3-1 win against Borussia Dortmund qualifies the Lisbon club for the Champions League knockout stages)