Netherlands 0-2 Portugal

The Jong Oranje welcomed Portugal to the AFAS Stadion in Alkmaar for the first leg of the UEFA U21 play-offs. Portugal was the only nation with a perfect record in the group stage after eight consecutive victories, the Netherlands losing their final two games in their respective group to finish runners-up.

 

Top scorer Quincy Promes was absent for the Dutch side, leaving Luc Castaignos to carry the load alongside two players hardly featuring during the group stage, Manu and El Ghazi. Portugal’s attacking trio consisted of Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Pereira and Ivan Cavaleiro with Porto’s 17-year-old Ruben Neves given a start in midfield.

 

Early scare

The home side were the first to pose a threat, Jetro Willems allowed time and space to cross for Manu whose effort was close, cannoning off the crossbar and away from danger. 

 

Portugal were pressing very high allowing their opponents no time on the ball, the hosts in contrast content to wait for Portugal to enter their half before showing any concern. 

 

Sérgio Oliveira released Ivan Cavaleiro who beat Sven van Beek with ease, but from a tight angle could not beat Zwolle’s Warner Hahn in goal. Ricardo Pereira then got past Rekik but could not find a teammate.

 

The Netherlands responded as El Ghazi broke free and crossed to an unmarked Manu who couldn’t get his header on target. The match was going from end to end in rapid fashion, Sérgio Oliveira putting Ivan Cavaleiro into good position with van Beek this time up to the challenge 

 

Breakthrough

Portugal were looking dangerous, creating numerous attacks without an end product. On the stroke of half time Portugal took a deserved lead. Bernardo Silva burst into the box, skipping around van Beek, who clumsily took him down for an obvious penalty. Sérgio Oliveira duly obliged to send the Seleção 1-0 up at the break.

 

Adrie Koster replaced Ruben Ligeon with Joshua Brenet at half time, but it had little effect as

 

Portugal began the second half in dominating fashion. Ivan Cavaleiro once again turned van Beek who simply had no chance 1 on 1, Hahn doing well to thwart the danger. 

 

The Netherlands were unable to get anywhere near the Portuguese goal, Raphael Guerreiro capitalising on the extra space by charging forward and testing Hahn with a decent shot.

 

Ivan Cavaleiro gave way for Carlos Mané on the hour mark which started a flurry of substitutions, the ineffective El Ghazi was replaced by Ola John for the hosts, while Rafa Silva made way for Sporting’s Iuri Medeiros. 

 

Portugal continued to suffocate their opponents, Mané with a good chance but unable to produce enough power to trouble Hahn. Ricardo Horta replaced Ricardo Pereira shortly before Portugal doubled their lead and took complete control of the tie.

 

Solo goal

Carlos Mané did it all himself, receiving the ball with his back to goal, holding off and turning past Sinkgraven, skipping past the helpless van Beek and producing a composed finish past Hahn to put the game out of reach. 

 

Portugal looked likely to add to their lead with the Netherlands defence going missing in the final stages, however they will be satisfied with a job well done away from home.

 

Rui Jorge has a tremendously talented squad as evidenced by the quality of substitutions at his disposal. He won the battle against his Dutch counterpart as captain Sérgio Oliveira in particular looked superb in the middle of the park, dictating play and releasing his forwards at will. Portugal took advantage of the Netherlands’ attacking fullbacks as Ricardo and Cavaleiro in particular caused havoc. 

 

In contrast Adam Maher simply could not get into the game, partly due to Nathan Aké getting too much ball in the centre of the park and unable to match his Portuguese opponents. Portugal predictably tied up Castaignos who didn’t help his cause with careless offsides, while Feyenoord’s young defender Sven van Beek had a game to forget, bamboozled by Portugal’s constant wave of attacks aimed in his direction.

 

It appears a formality that Portugal will advance in five days’ time at the Estádio da Capital do Móvel in Paços de Ferreira. 

 

Portugal:

José Sá, Ricardo Esgaio, Paulo Oliveira, Rúben Vezo, Raphael Guerreiro, Rúben Neves, Rafa Silva (Iuri Medeiros, 73'), Bernardo Silva, Sérgio Oliveira, Ivan Cavaleiro (Carlos Mané, 61'), Ricardo Pereira (Ricardo Horta, 78')

Goals:

[0-1] Sérgio Oliveira (pen), 45'

[0-2] Carlos Mané, 82'

 

By Matthew Marshal

(to follow Matthew on Twitter click here)

Overall Rating (2)

5 out of 5 stars

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  • Guest - Nelson

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    I actually got a chance to watch this one and I was impressed. We totally dominated the game.

    Really impressive considering this team was missing Rony Lopes, Tiago Ilori, Edger Ie, Gonçalo, and Bruma to injuries and also were without Joao Mario and Andre Gomes who were promoted. All of those guys are probably starters if healthy! A lot of depth in this squad and they play beautiful football. The crossing could have been a bit better and not having a striker hampered them but overall very impressed. The future is bright.

    Rapheal, Neves and Bernardo Silva in particular impressed. Bernardo Silva is a little guy but man can he play, he's also not afraid of contact for a guy his size. He was involved in 90% of portugal's best moves! I really hope he scores for Monaco versus Benfica in the Champions League to show JJ that he should give his Portuguese prospects a chance.

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  • Guest - Roberto

    This generation has got some serious quality depth. How often do you know Portugal's U21 substitutes?

    Absolutely outclassed Netherlands U21 in every sense... I can understand why the Portuguese press has been calling Bernardo Silva "Messizinho". Wow. Small but super quick. Strong. Agile. Left foot. Great vision, great technique... The low socks and tucked jersey... I'm drooling.

    Excited about the present. Impatient for the future.

    from Montreal, QC, Canada
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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    Exciting stuff. Loved the work rate from Ivan Cavaleiro. I still think there's work to do in the 2nd leg. Our left back had a poor game. Chances on both ends.. more for us. One goal should do it.

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    While Rui Jorge's side deserves a ton of praise for their beautiful, free-flowing attacking-football, what impressed me even more was their work-rate, organization, and discipline without the ball. Their ability to press effectively as a unit while still maintaining their defensive shape - in my opinion - proved to be the huge difference between the two sides.

    And as others have mentioned, they were without Bruma, Rony Lopes, Joao Mario, Andre Gomes, William Carvalho (I believe he will be eligible for next summer's tournament), and Tiago Ilori. This squad is overflowing with world-class potential. Imagine this starting 11:

    ----------------------------------------------Bruma--------------------------------------Carlos Mane--------------------------------------------------------
    -----------------------------------------------------------------Bernardo-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------------Gomes-------------William--------Joao Mario------------------------------------------
    ------------------Guerreiro-------------------Ilori------------------------Oliveira-----------------------------Esgaio
    ---------------------------------------------------------------Sa-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And then you have Rony Lopes, Ricardo, Cavaleiro, Rafa, Ruben Neves, Toze, Vezo, etc. on the bench!!!

    In addition, Rui Jorge has proved that Portugal does not require a traditional #9 to win games. They have been scoring goals for fun since the introduction of the hugely successful 4-4-2 diamond which consists of two pacey wingers and a #10. The shape is actually quite similar to that of a 4-3-3, but the center-forward is replaced with a more technically gifted, creative alternative (Bernardo Silva, Rony Lopes, Rafa, etc). Therefore, it works for the U-21's it could certainly be adopted by the senior squad. Fernando Santos certainly has the personnel to pull it off.

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  • Guest - Oscar

    if this side manage to reach the Euro next year they will take some beating, a full strength side is packed with quality and down to the last substitute. Bruno Fernandes who is a huge talent cant even get a look in, in a few years sexy football will be back and better than ever in the AA side

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  • Guest - Steve\Australia

    Proud:

    Didn't watch the game (3:30 am in AUS was too hard) but what a great performance. Looking at the players you know that the squad is good when you have key players out but yet still have quality players on the bench like Carlos Mane and Ricardo Horta.

    Bernardo Silva

    The first team experience is allowing Bernardo Silva to grow and show to everyone (Jorge Jesus are you watching mate) that he should have been in the Benfica first team this season (NOTE: I'm not arguing he should start just saying he should have been given some opportunities againsy weaker teams). From the times I've watched him I have witnessed that his passing, vision and skill is at another level even at his young age and if nurtured correctly he has the ability to be world class no doubt. He also seems to have a loyal and hard working team ethic which is witnessed by his unselfish play on the pitch.

    As a Benfica supporter it was quite personally touching, seeing his twitter account showing his own personal progression from Benfica fan to youth player to B team to senior team and now a regular first teamer at Monaco.

    Steve

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Guest - Filipe

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    @SupremoGino Our leftback, Raphael Guerreiro, was one of the best in the game! Pace, technique, shooting and a tremendous attacking ability. After this performance, I believe he'll soon be fighting with Fabio for the starting position in the Selecao A.
    I'm astonished on how good our youth is. Like Nelson said, we are missing all of these players, and yet we still have an incredible squad that was able to beat one of the most prestigious nations in the world, quite easily.
    These players, along with Goncalo Guedes, Renato Sanches, Andre Silva, Ivo Rodrigues and Podstawski, surely bring some hope of silverware in the future.

    from New York, NY, USA
    0 Like Short URL:
  • All valid comments. I am not sure how the age thing works but I can't imagine anyone replacing Sergio Oliveria in this team. I don't watch Pacos de Ferreira a great deal but I will be hoping to get comments from others as the season progresses and would be surprised if he doesn't improve.

    You would imagine Joao Mario but I don't think many changes are in order. As mentioned, Cavaleiro and Bernardo were superb and their work off the ball as a unit impressive.

    In regards to the fullbacks, in particular Guerriero got skinned by El Ghazi and looked a liability at other times. It was the pattern for the game, the five fullbacks didn't do much defending, and with both sides employing fast, tricky wingers it left the centre backs, van Beek in particular horribly exposed. I would think it will be a pattern we will see continue in this tournament.

    It was basically a false 9 formation, the future is very bright for Portuguese football. We will see some of these guys in France if all goes well.

    0 Like Short URL:
  • Guest - Ivo

    i didn't see the game but watched the extended highlights and followed the live commentary. I've got to say, as everyone else has, that Bernardo Silva looked very good. His dribbling is brilliant and he attacks defenders with such pace and ease. If he continues to develop he's going to be a gem for the full NT in no time. Mane also looked very good off the bench. The way he rounded the defender with his body before sprinting away from him and nailing a finesse shot in the bottom corner was a thing of beauty. This team looks great and as others have mentioned, they did this without a number of key players. Great depth in the youth ranks, which is exactly what we need in this period of transition for the full NT.

    0 Like Short URL:

      

 

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