Portugal beat Poland 2-1 in the 2024 UEFA European U17 Championship quarter-finals

Portugal got back into the winner’s circle after beating Poland 2-1 in the 2024 UEFA European U17 Championship quarter-finals.

The Equipa das Quinas got off to a perfect start at Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Eduardo Felicíssimo’s deflected strike sailing past Mateusz Jeleń in the 5th minute.

Diogo Ferreira denied Oskar Pietuszewski with a fine save but there was nothing he could do in the 34th minute, a long throw headed into the path of Michael Izunwanne who scored his fourth goal of the tournament.

Portugal got back on top before the break, Eduardo Fernandes rattling the bar and Geovany Quenda’s free kick slapped off the post by Jeleń.

The decisive goal came in the 59th minute when Quenda’s shot was too hot to handle for the busy goalkeeper's second attempt punched into Rodrigo Mora who diverted the ball into the net.

Gabriel Silva went close to extending the lead but a third goal wasn’t required in Larnaca, Portugal closing it out to reach the semi-finals where Serbia await.

Felicíssimo strikes and Ferreira saves

Portugal started strong in Larnaca and took the lead in the 5th minute after a failed clearance. João Simões did well to get the ball into the danger zone, another poor clearance falling to Eduardo Felicíssimo who saw his shot deflected past Mateusz Jeleń.

Poland went close to equalising minutes later when Rafael Mota fell over near the touchline, Oskar Pietuszewski racing into the box and around Felicíssimo, unable to beat Diogo Ferreira who did well to tip the ball wide.

The Equipa das Quinas regained control, Geovany Quenda’s shot blocked after some nice build up play from Rodrigo Mora and Eduardo Fernandes firing two chances over the bar.

Rafael Mota was having a tough time, the central defender fortunate not to concede a penalty after bundling into Pietuszewski.

Rui Silva’s long ball skills were on display once again, the centre-back picking out Gabriel Silva who looked certain to score before Jeleń made a smart save.

Izunwanne equalises

It proved to be a decisive moment with Poland equalising in the 34th minute.

A long throw wasn't dealt with, Kacper Potulski heading the ball into the path of top scorer Michael Izunwanne who drilled it into the bottom corner.

Woodwork comes into play

Portugal got back on top as Fernandes rattled the bar with an audacious long range effort. Gabriel Silva was getting repeatedly fouled which saw Mateusz Dziewiatowski booked for bringing the striker down.

The woodwork came to Poland’s rescue once again when Geovany Quenda’s free kick was punched off the post by Jeleń. Joäo Santos made an enforced change before the break, Rafael Mota making way for Afonso Sousa.

Portugal maintained the dominance in the second half, a well worked team move resulting in Martim Cunha’s fierce strike tipped over the bar by Jeleń.

Santos made two changes in the 59th minute when David Daiber and Cardoso Varela replaced Simões and Fernandes.

Rodrigo Mora right place right time

Less than 60 seconds later Portugal regained the lead. Mora started the move by racing clear and releasing Quenda who tested Jeleń, the goalkeeper unable to handle the ball, his attempt to punch it away going straight into Mora and into the net.

Gabriel Silva nearly did it all himself in the 69th minute when he showed silky skills to get past Dawid Szwiec and surge into the box, the striker cutting inside and outside before seeing his shot deflected wide.

Portugal continued to press with Quenda and Mora combining once again, Mora unable to keep his shot down.

Portugal close it out

Rafal Lasocki made his final two changes in the 80th minute when Jan Leszczynski and Bartosz Mazurek entered the fray, Mazurek immediately dragging his effort wide.

Their hopes were short lived with Jeleń denying Gabriel Silva after some great work from Felicíssimo. Rui Silva deflected Pietuszewski’s shot wide at the other end as Poland went for broke.

Santos made two late changes, Mora and Gabriel Silva making way for Tiago Ferreira and Afonso Patrão, Portugal standing strong and closing it out to advance to the semi-finals.

Great response

João Santos made three changes in Larnaca with Eduardo Felicíssimo replacing David Daiber in midfield, winger Eduardo Fernandes making his first start at the expense of Cardoso Varela and Gabriel Silva returning up front for Afonso Patrão.

Portugal simply had to respond after their final group game resulted in a disappointing 2-1 defeat to France.

Respond they did, Felicíssimo’s fifth minute opener one of 22 shots which included nine on target. Poland stayed in the contest with the woodwork coming to their rescue on two occasions and Mateusz Jeleń making two strong saves to deny Gabriel Silva.

Felicíssimo had a great game in midfield, imposing himself on proceedings in a strong all round performance. With Cardoso Varela starting on the bench, Rodrigo Mora combined well with Geovany Quenda and scored the winner, his fourth goal of the tournament.

Gabriel Silva looked hungry and sharp after being benched against France. With Cardoso Varela likely to come back into the starting side in the semi-finals, Portugal’s front four will be ready to fire against Serbia with the match to be played on Sunday 2 June.

Santos satisfied

"It was with soul, heart and quality. That was the principle, we fulfilled the game plan. It was a shame not to achieve more, it could be for the semi-final.

"We had the attitude, belief, belief, we know the value that this team has. When we put the individual and collective quality that this team has on the field, we can fight against any team.

"We have the ability to fight. They were a little sad at half-time with that equalising goal, which made them a little uncomfortable, but I gave them strength, I believe in them a lot.

"Whoever enters will have the quality for us to reach the final. There is only one step left. It will have to be with the same quality and a lot of desire. When there is desire, there is no fatigue.

"It is absolutely certain that Serbia is also tired, despite having another day of rest. This is a disadvantage for us, but we have the Portuguese soul and let's go."

By Matthew Marshall at Antonis Papadopoulos Larnaca

Highlights

Line Up

Portugal (4-2-3-1):  Diogo Ferreira - Edgar Mota, Rui Silva, Rafael Mota (Afonso Sousa 45’), Martim Cunha - Eduardo Felicíssimo, João Simões (David Daiber 59’) - Geovany Quenda, Rodrigo Mora (Tiago Ferreira 87’), Eduardo Fernandes (Cardoso Varela 59’) - Gabriel Silva (Afonso Patrão 88’)

Unused Substitutes: Miguel Gouveia, Duarte Soares, Afonso Meireles, João Trovisco

Coach: João Santos

Goals:

[1-0] Eduardo Felicíssimo 5'

[1-1] Izunwanne 35'

[2-1] Rodrigo Mora 59'