Italy edge past Portugal to win UEFA Under-19 Championship

Italy won the UEFA Under-19 Championship as they defeated Portugal 1-0 at the National Stadium on Sunday.

This was the second success for Italy in this competition after defeating Portugal in Liechtenstein in 2003. In fact, this was the third time the two teams reached the final of the UEFA Under-19 Championship. In 2018, Portugal had defeated Italy in Finland.

The two teams had met in the group stage with Portugal beating ten-man Italy 5-1 but this time, it was a completely different story.

Italy were clearly a better side during the first half, taking a deserved lead but in the second half, Portugal showed considerable improvement and went close to equalising on several occasions. However this was not enough to level matters and force extra-time.

Italy missed a good opportunity on the 9th minute wiuth Pio Esposito failing to connect from close range following a cross by Michael Kayode from the right. Four minutes later, Cher N’Dour concluded high from outside the area.

However, on 19 minutes, Italy took the lead. Iacopo Regonesi served Luis Hasa on the left and off the latter’s cross, Michael Kayode rose high to head the ball home past a surprised Goncalo Ribeiro.

Portugal replied with a cross shot by Martim Marques which was neutralised by Davide Mastrantonio on 29 minutes but Italy threatened once again on 36 minutes with an assist by Cher N’Dour for Pio Esposito from the right and the latter served Luis Hasa whose low shot from outside the area was parried by Ribeiro. Three minutes from the end of the first half, a fine shot by Hasa from outside the area ended just over the bar. In added time, Hugo Felix hit high from a freekick for Portugal.

Substitute Diogo Prioste soon made his presence felt with a shot from outside the area which was parried by Mastrantonio four minutes in the second half. Four minutes later, Samuele Vignato concluded a solo effort for Italy with a low shot which was neutralised by Ribeiro.

A powerful shot by Rodrigo Ribeiro was deflected by a defender into a corner on 58 minutes. Mastrantonio then performed a fine save on a close-range header by Martim Fernandes following a cross by Gustavo Sa from the left on 61 minutes and four minutes alter, the Italian goalkeeper neutralised a shot by Gustavo Sa from outside the area.

A freekick from the left by Hugo Felix ended high on the 70th. Eight minutes later, a freekick from the left by the same player was saved by Mastrantonio. On the other side of the pitch, Samuele Vignato tested Goncalo Ribeiro with a powerful shot from inside the area on the 79th.

Deep into stopapge time, substitute Herculano Nabian almost notched the equaliser with a powerful drive but his attempt ended off target.

Italy were presented with the trophy by UEFA Chief of Football Zvonimir Boban and Malta FA president Bjorn Vassallo.

PORTUGAL Goncalo Ribeiro, Goncalo Esteves, Antonio Ribeiro (90+2’ Luis Gomes), Gabriel Bras, Martim Marques (46’ Martim Fernandes), Nuno Felix, Carlos Borges, Gustavo Sa (76’ Herculano Nabian), Rodrigo Ribeiro, Samuel Justo (46’ Diogo Prioste), Hugo Felix (83’ Miguel Fale).

ITALY Davide Mastrantonio, Filippo Missori, Iacopo Regonesi, Lorenzo Dellavalle, Alessandro Dellavalle, Luis Hasa, Cher N’Dour (65’ Luca Lipani), Pio Esposito, Samuele Vignato (80’ Luca Koleosho), Michael Kayode, Giacomo Faticanti (72’ Niccolo Pisilli)

Referee: Sven Jablonski GER
Assistant Referees: Rafael Morin LUX, Robert Kempter LUX
Fourth Official: Gergo Bogar HUN
Attendance: 5,648

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