Portugal beat Spain 2-1 to get off to a winning start at the 2024 UEFA European U17 Championship

Portugal overcame a slow start to beat Spain 2-1 in their opening match at the European U17 Championship.

Manu González made an early save in Achnas before La Rojita took control, the breakthrough coming in the 19th minute when Daniel Yáñez sent a free kick past Diogo Ferreira.

It didn’t take long for Portugal to get into the contest with the equaliser coming six minutes later. João Simões started the move that saw Martim Cunha send Cardoso Varela clear, the winger doing it all himself and curling the ball into the far corner.

The winning goal came in the 33rd minute when Eduardo Felicíssimo won the ball and released Gabriel Silva, the striker setting up Rodrigo Mora who scored off the underside of the bar.

The second half was a slow burner, Ferreira doing well to stop Spain’s late surge as Portugal held firm and closed out an impressive victory.

Spain take control

Portugal created an early opportunity from a free kick, Geovany Quenda sending the ball into the danger area where Gabriel Silva forced a save from Manu González.

Spain started to dominate proceedings however, Guille Fernández’s shot deflected wide and Adrián Arnucio seeing his effort deflected over the bar. They won a succession of corners, centre-back Joan Martínez heading two of them over the bar.

La Rojita were on fire and deservedly took the lead in the 19th minute after a robust challenge from Rafael Mota gave a way a free kick. There didn’t appear to be any immediate danger but Daniel Yáñez had other ideas, the Real Madrid winger sending the ball over the wall and beating Diogo Ferreira at his near post.

Portugal fight back

The Equipa das Quinas didn't let the setback affect them and equalised through a textbook counter attack. João Simões defused a dangerous situation in Portugal's 18-yard box and summed up the situation, switching the ball to the left flank where Martim Cunha released Cardoso Varela, the winger surging into the box and stroking the ball into the far corner.

Quenda’s shot was saved before Gabriel Silva fired over the bar with Rodrigo Mora unmarked and having a word with his teammate. Less than a minute later Silva made a different decision that resulted in the go ahead goal.

Quenda won the ball near the centre circle with Eduardo Felicíssimo sending Gabriel Silva clear, this time the striker sending the ball to Mora who took his time before scoring off the underside of the bar.

Hernán Pérez made a change at the break with Guille Fernández replaced by David Otorbi. The Valencia winger was immediately involved, showing too much speed for Rafael Mota before his shot cannoned off the post.

Portugal responded without hesitation, Gabriel Silva surging into a packed box where he was caught in two minds, eventually sending a tame shot into the sky.

Game slows down

Duarte Soares’ cross came off the bar which saw Manu González pick up an injury. The goalkeeper couldn’t continue and was replaced by Álvaro González, Hernán Pérez also bringing on Albert Navarro for centre-back Landry Farré.

João Santos made two substitutions of his own, David Daiber and Afonso Patrão replacing Simões and Gabriel Silva.

Chances were proving hard to come by with neither goalkeeper being tested. Felicíssimo was booked for a late shot on Quim Junyent, the midfielder immediately replaced by David Daiber along with Varela who made way for Eduardo Fernandes.

Spain went for broke with the clock ticking down, Navarro’s shot saved by Ferreira before Pol Durán fired wide and Otorbi shot straight at Portugal’s number one.

Mora was booked for time wasting and taken out of the firing line for João Trovisco, Spain’s late surge coming to an end in added time with Portugal going closest to scoring, Patrão holding the ball up and finding Meireles who couldn’t beat González.

Juan Hernández and Geovany Quenda were involved in an altercation after the final whistle, referee Nenad Minaković calling both players back onto the pitch to brandish yellow cards.

Vital victory

It wasn’t looking good after 20 minutes, Cardoso Varela looking lost off the ball with Spain making regular inroads down his side of the pitch.

Spain’s opening goal could have taken the wind out of Portugal’s sails, but they showed great determination and belief to get back into the contest.

João Simões and Eduardo Felicíssimo were key to the turnaround, the midfield pair laying the platform for Geovany Quenda, Rodrigo Mora, Cardoso Varela and Gabriel Silva to do the damage up front.

Portugal’s defence did well to shut Spain down in the second half, Diogo Ferreira coming back strong after being beaten by Yáñez’s early free kick.

João Santos satisfied

"As we expected, the first game was going to be very difficult, especially because there is always that normal nervousness, especially at these ages. We ended up playing a good game and I think the result is deserved. We are not playing against just any team, it is a very strong team, with a lot of quality that we know and great players.

"I was always careful to tell the players that at one time or another we were going to have difficulties and that they were going to have two or three opportunities. In those opportunities, we had to be there and that's what happened. We conceded a goal, they remained calm and the maturity they acquire for their careers, in this case for the tournament, is very important.

"I think that in short the victory is fair. A hug for João Simões, who is the captain and is in a difficult phase. We are here to support him and this victory is dedicated to him.

"Anyone who thought that we came here and were going to pick easy selections would be mistaken. Anyone who follows grassroots football, especially in these cases in Spain, England and France, knows that they have very strong teams, with a lot of quality and that at any moment they become unbalanced."

Santos’ side face another tough challenge on Friday, England their next opponents in Group D with the match taking place at Ammochostos Epistrofi Stadium in Larnaca. The Young Lions beat France in their opening match.

By Matthew Marshall at Dasaki Stadium


Line Ups

Portugal (4-2-3-1):  Diogo Ferreira - Duarte Soares, Rui Silva, Rafael Mota, Martim Cunha - Eduardo Felicíssimo (David Daiber 76'), João Simões - (Afonso Meireles 68'), Geovany Quenda, Rodrigo Mora (João Trovisco 88'), Cardoso Varela (Eduardo Fernandes 76') - Gabriel Silva (Afonso Patrão 68')
Unused Substitutes:  Miguel Gouveia, Edgar Mota, Afonso Sousa and Tiago Ferreira.
Coach:  João Santos

Spain (4-3-3):  Manu González (Alvaro Gonzalez, 67') - Jesus Fortea, Joan Martínez, Landry Farré (Albert Navarro, 67'), Diego Aguado - Juan Hernández, Marc Bernal (Pol Duran, 76'), Quim Junyent - Daniel Yañez, Adrian Arnucio (Sydney Osazuwa, 76') Guillermo Fernandez (David Otorbi 46')
Unused Substitutes:  Andres Cuenca, Aboubacar Sangare, Paulo Iago, Igor Oyono Oyana. 
Coach:  Hernán Pérez


[0-1] Daniel Yañez, 20'

[1-1] Cardoso Varela, 25'

[2-1] Rodrigo Mora, 33'