Portugal crush Ukraine as they cruise into the U19 European Championship Final
Portugal pulled off a simply stunning performance to thrash Ukraine 5-0 as they cruised into the nation's fourth European final at this youth level in the last 16 years.
Portugal's first half was a joy to behold, with the Seleção hitting all five of their goals in the first 30 minutes of the game, and were ultimately just too good for Ukraine.
Without star striker Jose Gomes, who was injured in the previous match against Finland, some could have been forgiven for thinking Portugal would be a little short on firepower up front in his absence. However, the first goal came inside just the second minute of the game, after a wonderful cross from Benfica's João Filipe found the head of Gomes' replacement Pedro Correia who, after seeing his first effort saved brilliantly by the Ukrainian keeper, squeezed home the rebound.
It wasn't long before Portugal doubled their lead after Francisco Trincão's corner eventually found João Filipe, who thrashed his volley home from close range just before the 20th minute.
João Filipe, who has had a truly exceptional tournament so far - having also been involved in all three goals Portugal scored against Finland in the last group stage fixture - bagged his brace soon afterwards, calmly slotting his shot into the bottom right corner in the 21st minute, all but cementing Portugal's place in the final.
But Portugal were far from finished and, in the 28th minute, Braga wonderkid Trincão got himself on the scoresheet, scoring a lovely solo effort from just outside the box with an accurate strike into the bottom right corner.
And the fifth came just three seconds before the 30th minute mark, with João Filipe playing in Wolves' left-back Ruben Vinagre with a pinpoint pass who, as he has done all tournament, burst through on the overlap from his deep starting position. When his low cross was only parried by the Ukrainian shot-stopper, Francisco Trincão was able to bag his second of the game with a simple finish from close range.
With Portugal still dominant up to half time, it would have been the Ukrainian players and fans who were relieved to hear the referee's whistle, with Portugal settling the game with 45 minutes still to go. The fact the betting markets put shorter odds on Portugal to win 6-0 than for the score to stay as it was, it was clear that Portugal very much had the upper hand.
But with Portugal in cruise control, the second half was reduced in tempo, and Portugal were happy to take a breather in preparation for the final.
The match was therefore played out with no further goals, with Portugal storming to a 5-0 win courtesy of an extraordinary opening half hour.
With a place in this edition's final now sealed, the ambitious aim of fulfilling the prestigious honour of winning both the U17 & U19 European Championship with the same generation of players is still well and truly alive, a fate which very few groups of players have achieved in the past.
Portugal will be playing in the European final - the nation's second in a row at U19 level - this Sunday, on the 29th July, knowing that their opposition will either be Italy or France, who meet later today.
PORTUGAL XI: Diogo Costa; David Carmo, Romain Correia, Thierry Correia, Ruben Vinagre; Florentino Luis, Miguel Luis, Quina; Francisco Trincão, João Filipe, Pedro Correia. SUBS: Virginia, Nuno Santos.