Portugal 0-0 Sweden (after extra time, Sweden win 4-3 on penalties)

Sweden defeated Portugal on penalties at Eden Stadium in Prague to win the U21 European Championship final. Portugal dominated for large portions of the match but were unable to beat Patrik Carlgren in the Swedish goal, the keeper saving two Portuguese penalties in the shootout to give his side an historic victory.

The defeat will be difficult for Rui Jorge and his men to take after being favourites to win in Prague after a convincing 5-0 win against Germany in the semi-final. Despite the immediate disappointment, it was a positive campaign in the Czech Republic after a flawless qualification campaign.


Portugal’s first choice 11 dominate once again

Tiago Ilori took his place in the starting XI as Rui Jorge named his preferred team against Sweden, Ricardo Pereira signalling Portugal’s intentions with an effort into the side netting in the opening exchanges. Raphael Guerreiro was heavily involved in the early attacks as William Carvalho won a free kick within shooting distance. Captain Sérgio Oliveira stepped up and rattled the crossbar with Carlgren beaten.

Thelin headed at José Sá and João Mário shot high and wide as Portugal schemed for an opening through Sweden’s well organised defence. Ricardo Esgaio became involved on the right flank as Portugal dominated possession with Sweden looking to hit on the counter attack. Simon Tibbling was given time and space with his shot from distance straight at Sá.

Ivan Cavaleiro was the main target for Portugal’s attacks but the Benfica attacker was repeatedly caught offside. Guerreiro won a free kick on the edge of the box with Sérgio Oliveira’s shot easily saved by Carlgren before Portugal fashioned their best chance of the half. João Mário released Esgaio into the box with the right-back cutting the ball back for the midfielder but his scuffed shot was way off target.

Tibbling continued to look dangerous as he drove into the box with his cross claimed by Sá. Guerreiro drove a shot from distance over the bar before Khalili repeated the trick at the other end for Sweden. Esgaio found more space on the right flank with his teasing cross unable to be met by a Portuguese attacker. Portugal finished the first half with 63% possession, outpassing Sweden 254-104.

Second half much of the same

Håkan Ericson changed things up in central defence with Joseph Baffo replacing Filip Helander as Portugal resumed their attack. A swift counter attack saw Bernardo Silva roll the ball across the box with Ricardo unable to turn it in. Sweden then produced their best chance of the game, Hiljemark’s ball into the box headed back by Thelin into the path of Guidetti who volleyed over the bar.

Sérgio Oliveira’s shot from distance went wide before Rui Jorge made a surprising move as he replaced the captain with Tozé. Bernardo Silva was trying hard to instigate matters as Jorge brought on Iuri Medeiros for Ivan Cavaleiro. Tozé had a dangerous effort which was fumbled by Carlgren before Carvalho released Medeiros, the Sporting CP winger cutting inside and swerving a left footed effort just wide of the post.

Quaison replaced Tibbling for Sweden before Jorge made his final substitution as Gonçalo Paciência replaced Ricardo. Portugal remained dominant with Swedish chances few and far between. Guidetti had a half chance inside the area but had his shot blocked by Ilori, Tozé and João Mário shooting over the bar at the other end.   

Portuguese hearts were in mouths late on as Guidetti found himself one on one with Sá, the Marítimo keeper saving well as the Portuguese defence cleared the danger. Portugal threatened yet again late on but couldn’t find a winner as extra time beckoned.

Frustration continues in extra time

Khalili curled an effort just past the far post with Sá beaten before Paciência shot straight at Carlgren. Both sides appeared to be fatigued which was understandable after playing five games in 14 days. Khalili had another effort go wide as extra time reached the halfway stage.

Baffo fouled Medeiros on the edge of the area but Paciência was just unable to get his head onto Tozé’s free kick. The FC Porto striker then had a shot blocked before meeting Medeiros's cross with a header which was deflected away from goal.

Heartbreak in penalty shootout

The penalty shootout lottery began well for Guidetti, Paciência and Thelin and Toze’s effort bounced just over the line after he smashed the ball off the underside of the bar. Augustinsson scored but Esgaio’s penalty was well saved by Carlgren to give Sweden a 3-2 advantage. Khalili stepped up but his weak effort was saved by Sá as João Mário restored parity for Portugal.

Victor Nilsson-Lindelöf scored to put all the pressure on William Carvalho who saw his penalty saved by Carlgren as Sweden celebrated and Portuguese tears flowed. A heartbreaking way to lose any game of football, it is particularly difficult to take after dominating much of the encounter in a game of such magnitude.

Sweden were minutes away from losing the knockout qualification game against France and minutes away from failing to qualify from Group B but their resilience paid off as they claimed their first UEFA youth title. One shouldn’t forget they also produced a remarkable comeback against Italy in the group stage after being a goal and a man down in the first half.

Portugal’s disappointment has a similar feel to the U20 World Cup exit to Brazil in New Zealand where they also went out on penalties after dominating the match. Rui Jorge’s class of 2015 now has the unenviable comparison with Luís Figo’s team in 1994, which after winning the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship lost against Italy in the U21 European Championship final in extra time. 


Portugal: José Sá, Esgaio, Paulo Oliveira, Ilori, Raphael Guerreiro, William, Sérgio Oliveira (Tozé 54), João Mário, Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Pereira (Gonçalo Paciência 70), Cavaleiro (Iuri Medeiros 61)

Sweden: Carlgren, Lindelof, Miloeevic, Helander (Baffo 46), Augustinsson, Tibbling (Quaison 65), Lewicki, Hiljemark, Khalili, Guidetti, Kiese Thelin 


By Matthew Marshall

Follow Matthew on Twitter @noobzcorp and check out The Beautiful Game


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  • Guest - Tiago

    Heartbreaking. I feel like Portuguese athletes need some physiological coaching. Meantally weak! How did Silva NOT step up to take a spot kick? William a man in the group, who has represented hiscountry in the senior level be so shaky during his spot kick?

    Good future, but I'm tired of being second best when we were clearly the best.

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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    What else in new? I never thought Portugal had the "choker" instinct. It's fair to say the main thing we've struggled with in major tournaments is getting screwed by the refs. But how quickly is that changing with consecutive PK losses at the youth level when we clearly possessed the better side.

    Rui Jorge is to blame for this dismal.. It doesn't seem that he took any time for our guys to practice penalties.. no wonder all subs were spent by the 60th minute. Just a stupid strategy given it took 82 min to score on them in the last encounter and how we know they set up defensively with two lines of four. Easy telling Sweden planned and were prepared for penalties.

    I wonder what goes through a coaches mind.. why they have to abandon common sense and pull a rabbit out of their ass in a penalty shootout. Esgaio had a good game though is not a goalscorer and was completely out of breath, still gets chosen to shoot. Then there's William.. as soon as I saw his face going up to take the 5th shot, I knew it was over. Again another player on heavy legs who isn't even a known threat for scoring. Instead, Iuri and Bernardo were the obvious picks.

    If William is going to play any part in Portugal's future seleccao, he is a holding midfielder potentially a world class one but never expect him to combine well in attack or score goals. He is a very slow player. He sacrifices pace for a stronger build. He is just useless in attack, can't believe he would be even considered to take a penalty.

    Anyhow this is sad. Too exceptionally talented squads only to expand our loser mentality. Ricardo 2004 is surely missed.

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  • Disappointment loss but overall great performance in the tournament with a bright future ahead once you take into account the U-20. I thought Rui got the subs wrong, left us with no cutting edge to score or take penalties. As soon as I saw the first few kicks with the cutting edge from Sweden I knew we were in trouble. Combine no cutting edge with tired legs and that is bad for penalty kicks. I thought Toze was horrible, he might have had some life in early stages, but he offered nothing in midfield as he was out of position, destroyed in 1v1, worthless passes, and no explosion. His inclusion made the tired legs work harder to make up for his incompetence. You would think we would have left one of our starters in or have a better option off the bench.

    In conclusion we can see that we still lack the ability to score in tight games especially against teams who play a deep line which forces us to play useless crosses into large defensive numbers, lack of a shooting from distance, and the lethal striker we need to put it in the next in tight spaces. We will make runs in tournaments but our cutting edge is unresolved.

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  • Guest - Paulo

    Once again, a Portuguese team having a hard time cracking a team who doesn't want to leave any holes on defense. Sweden had allow exactly one goal in each prior game in the tournament. But this time, they clearly wanted to go to penalties or get lucky with a counter. Portugal has great young talent, but not a finisher among(Andre Silva misses way too much). We clearly need a finisher, then we will finally have a chance to win trophies. Is the combination of Ronaldo with the some of the youngsters going to be the answer, time will tell.

    from California, USA
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  • congrats to the U20s & U21s for their successful tourneys.... Portugal's future is looking promising....
    now let's hope some of these youngsters get called up and not just to warm the bench beginning with Jose Sa....

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  • Guest - Europeo

    Congrats to the silver! You earned it ;-)
    But honestly....did you at all pic any goal scores in the team....or did Sweden just neutrulise them all????
    Portugal had pretty much 75% of ball possesion...but scored 0.....thats why Sweden won + Portugal had sooo much more to loose

    from Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Guest - Winnipeg

    Hate to blame anyone here but when I saw Esgaio step up to take a penalty I had a flash back to Bento's same decision to send Alves in our PK loss to Spain in Euro 2012... recall Ronaldo didn't even shoot a PK that night and neither did Bernardo Silva tonight.

    Why in God's name do you send a defender when you have so much offensive talent. Full credit to Sweden's PK shooters. They didn't give the best goalie in the tournament (Sa) a chance to be the hero.

    Santos.....please keep Patricio to the bench and give the future (Sa) a chance.

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  • These are young men who encountered the sad part of sport: losing. But they did us proud. They must hold up their heads and be proud of everything they achieved. I'm incredibly proud of how they played and performed. The future is bright and I have faith in them.

    from Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • Guest - Larry USA

    Its not surprising now to realize the talent Portugal have in their squads. However, when it comes down to PKs, its 50/50. I'm Disappointed,yet proud of what these men have accomplished. I had a bad feeling when they went into PKs. Not the best track record Portugal has in regards to penalty shootouts, well unless we play England then that's a easy given :D. Anyways, Im very excited to what the future holds for the Seleccao. These guys are incredible, such great talent and pride. No one should give William Carvalho any crap about missing that PK. He literally helped us tremendously throughout this whole tournament. We wouldnt have gone that far if he wasn't playing thats for sure. Joao Sa should replace Patricio as the numbre 1 as keeper. What a overall performance!... I'll be the first to admit that we have had no luck in big tournaments, but soooner or later we will win a few. The future is bright. Forca!

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  • Guest - Lauren

    Although there is huge disappointment with the result, especially given how well the boys performed over the tournament, I see nothing but positives to take from this. There were impressive showings from a number of players, including Sergio Oliveira, Jose Sa and Bernardo Silva and a number of these players will soon be in the senior squad, I'm sure. The performances from the squad as a whole are certainly something that Rui Jorge can build on for the future. The players will take a lot from this tournament. The experience alone is huge. This will only help them to improve and develop further as players, and seeing the way they performed, I take confidence from it and I can't wait to see how they're performing in years to come.

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