Portugal 5-0 Germany
2015 UEFA U-21 European Championship Semi-Final
A comprehensive performance from the Portuguese under-21 team pushed them past Germany in the semi-final of the 2015 U-21 European Championship to book a place in the tournament’s final. Goals from Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Pereira, Ivan Cavaleiro, João Mario, and Ricardo Horta gave Portugal an emphatic and entirely unpredicted 5-0 win over the Germans. The Portuguese will now face Sweden in the final, to be played on Tuesday.
For this match, Rui Jorge named a largely unchanged lineup. José Sá resumed his role in-between the posts, with Raphaël Guerreiro, Tobias Figueiredo, Paulo Oliveira, and Ricardo Esgaio in front of him from left to right. Usual starter Tiago Ilori was rested for this match, after picking up a thigh injury in Portugal’s previous match against Sweden. He was replaced by Tobias. In midfield, William Carvalho lined up with Sérgio Oliveira, both in holding roles, and were joined by the more attacking-minded João Mario. Bernardo Silva started in his usual false-nine/attacking midfielder role, with Ricardo Pereira and Ivan Cavaleiro in their winger/forward role.
The match started largely evenly, which was to be expected. Coming into this match, Portugal had only scored two goals, which when compared with Germany’s five, suggested a more attacking-minded German side. For all of Germany’s pressure, Portugal were the ones who came closest in the opening exchanges. An excellent ball from William Carvalho found a speeding Ricardo Pereira on the wing. Ricardo’s cut-back fooled his German marker, and the winger’s perfect lay-off to Sérgio Oliveira was met with a thumping low-drive from the Portuguese skipper. Unfortunately, as perfectly as Sérgio’s shot was struck, he watched helplessly as it thundered back off the base of the right upright. It was Portugal who had threatened first, and they continued to push forward in search for the opening goal. They were rewarded just ten minutes later. Great interplay from Bernardo Silva and Ivan Cavaleiro saw the former set up by the latter. Silva received Cavaleiro’s ball, controlled it, and stroked it into the back of the net with some venom. Portugal were now up 1-0, and few would have predicted what was to come. Eight minutes later, Portugal had another. A corner kick was swung in from Bernardo Silva. Paulo Oliveira met the ball, and flicked it into the path of Ricardo Pereira, who was waiting, criminally-unmarked at the back post. Ricardo’s finish was an easy one. He tapped the ball in and Portugal were rolling. But the Germans weren’t sinking without a fight. The Germans came close soon after first through an effort from Kimmich, and then when the rebound was blasted over by left-back Schulz. And just before halftime, Germany had their best chance. Playmaker Amin Younes found some space on the edge of the box and unleashed a venomous strike from distance, which was expertly beaten away from José Sá. It appeared that Germany were up for a fight, but Portugal responded with a goal just seconds after. Ricardo was found free on the left flank. He cut in and delivered a cross that found the feet of João Mario. Mario picked out the on-rushing Ivan Cavaleiro, who deftly shot the ball into the upper right-hand corner of the net. Portugal were running away with the match, and when the whistle blew for halftime soon after, they knew it would take a miracle for Germany to mount a come-back.
The second half began much as the first ended: with a goal. Just a minute after the restart, Bernardo Silva’s mazing run ended with a pass to Ricardo Pereira, who was waiting on the right wing. Ricardo took a touch, turned, and laid the ball off to João Mario, who had been making a run forward. Mario one-time shot the ball, which took a deflection and found its way into the back of the net. Portugal were up 4-0, and from that point forward, any threat of a German come-back was non-existent. Portugal manged to score once more, about twenty minutes from the end of the match. Substitute João Cancelo picked out substitute Ricardo Horta’s run into the box with an excellent cross, and Horta made no mistake, side-footing the ball into the net. Portugal’s final goal perfectly highlighted the team’s remarkable depth, as two substitutes combined for the goal, and a third (Rafa Silva) was heavily involved. When, just minutes after Portugal’s fifth goal, Germany’s Leonardo Bittencourt picked up his second yellow card and was sent off, the final result became clear. From that point forward, it was all Portugal, as they cruised to an historic 5-0 victory.
Portugal now will face Sweden in the final, which will be played on Tuesday, June 30th at 8:45 PM local time, 2:45 PM EST. Sweden and Portugal faced each other in the group stage, with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
José Sá, Ricardo Esgaio, Paulo Oliveira, Tobias Figueiredo, Raphaël Guerreiro(João Cancelo), Sérgio Oliveira, William Carvalho, João Mario, Bernardo Silva(Rafa), Ivan Cavaleiro(Ricardo Horta), Ricardo Pereira