Portugal top Group D at the 2024 UEFA European U17 Championship despite a 2-1 defeat against France

Portugal have finished top of Group D at the 2024 UEFA European U17 Championship in Cyprus despite a 2-1 defeat against France.

Les Bleuets created two fantastic chances to score at Ammochostos Epistrofi Stadium, Enzo Sternal hitting the post  early on and Mohamed Kader Meïté heading wide from point blank range.

France eventually opened the scoring in the 36th minute, the impressive Rayane Messi getting past Martim Cunha and picking out Sternal who converted from close range.

Portugal responded two minutes later when Afonso Patrão used his strength to hold off Mathys Angély, the striker turning and firing a low shot past Jules Stawiecki.

The Equipa das Quinas never looked like scoring again, France getting the goal they deserved in the 81st minute when a loose ball found Enzo Molébé who beat Diogo Ferreira.

Ferreira made two strong saves to deny Molébé and Quentin Ndjantou, João Santos and his side immediately turning their attention to a quarter-final clash against Poland.

The defeat may have dampened the optimism that Portugal could go all the way in the tournament after two impressive opening performances, but a win in the quarter-final against Poland, just like a visit to jiliko, will see punters chasing winnings by putting bets on the Seleção to lift the trophy. 

France go close

France got off to a fast start in Larnaca, going desperately close to opening the scoring in the 3rd minute when Enzo Sternal’s low drive hit the post.

Rayane Messi Tanfouri was giving Martim Cunha a tough time and created a great chance in the 24th minute. The winger surged past the left-back, his cross picking out Mohamed Kader Meïté who headed wide from point blank range.

Rui Silva’s long ball gave Afonso Patrão half a chance, the striker getting into a collision with goalkeeper Jules Stawiecki which resulted in a free kick for Les Bleuets.

Bang bang

France got back on the front foot and took the lead in the 36th minute. Messi got past Cunha once again, this time delivering a low cross for Sternal who steered the ball into the net.

It didn’t take long for Portugal to respond with the equaliser coming two minutes later. Rodrigo Mora was the architect, giving the ball to Patrão who did well to hold off Mathys Angély, turn and fire a low shot past Stawiecki.

France dominate

José Alcocer made a change at the break with Enzo Molebe replacing Meïté up front. France started the second half well without testing Diogo Ferreira, Yanis Sellami making way for Quentin Ndjantou in the 61st minute.

João Santos made two changes of his own as Eduardo Felicíssimo and Gabriel Silva replaced David Daiber and Patrão.

Portugal escaped a nervy moment when Angély went down in the box, Rui Silva breathing a sigh of relief as referee Radoslav Gidzhenov booked the young Frenchman for diving.

The game started to open up with France needing to score goals to have any chance of reaching the Round of 16. Alcocer’s last throw of dice came in the 80th minute when Messi made way for Ibrahim Yayiya Kanté.

Kanté immediately saw his shot deflected wide, Ferreira tipping the resulting corner off the bar. Less than 60 seconds later France took a 2-1 lead.

The goal came from a throw in, Gabriel Silva challenging Angély for the ball that found its way to Molébé, the substitute finding himself 1 on 1 with Ferreira and beating the goalkeeper from close range.

Ferreira responded well after a failed clearance handed Molébé another chance to score, the keeper making another save to deny Ndjantou in added time.

Let’s move on

This was a classic game to forget. With Portugal virtually assured to progress to the quarter-finals and France with everything to play for, it was a game that never got going for the Equipa das Quinas.

Patrão’s equaliser was Portugal’s only shot on target, the statistics showing that France enjoyed 20-3 shots.

The 2-1 victory against Spain and 4-1 win against England ensure Portugal finish top of Group D which is a commendable achievement in an incredibly tough group.

João Santos will forget about this one as soon as possible, but it was still a useful outing as Edgar Mota replaced Duarte Soares, the right-back spending a lot of time in an advanced position.

All the attention now turns to the quarter-finals where Portugal face Poland at AEK Arena - Georgios Karapatakis in Larnaca on Thursday 30 May.

By Matthew Marshall at Ammochostos Epistrofi Stadium

Line Up

Portugal (4-2-3-1): Diogo Ferreira - Edgar Mota, Rui Silva, Rafael Mota, Martim Cunha - David Daiber (Eduardo Felicíssimo 65'), João Simões (Afonso Meireles 77') - Geovany Quenda (Eduardo Fernandes 91’), Rodrigo Mora, Cardoso Varela (João Trovisco 77') - Afonso Patrão (Gabriel Silva 65')

Unused Substitutes: Miguel Gouveia, Duarte Soares, Afonso Sousa, Tiago Ferreira

Coach: João Santos

Goals:

[0-1] Sternal 36'

[1-1] Afonso Patrão 38'

[1-2] Molébé 81'