Portugal suffer penalty shootout as France advance to European U17 Championship final

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Portugal’s campaign for the European U17 Championship came to an end after a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out loss to France at the Netanya Stadium. The result was overshadowed by a terrible injury to Ivan Lima who was stretched off the pitch in the second half.

It was an action-packed opener with Warren Zaire-Emery propelling France into the lead in the 6th minute. Afonso Moreira equalized soon after with Dário Essugo unleashing an unstoppable long-range strike into the top corner.

France equalized in added time when João Muniz deflected Valentin Atangana’s cross into his own net. The second half was a lukewarm affair after concern for Ivan Lima’s well-being became more important than the result.

With the game tied 2-2 after 90 minutes, the match ended in a penalty shootout where Portugal converted their first five penalty kicks. Mathys Tel kept France in the contest after their effort after a rebound off the bar and a dive from Diogo Fernandes.

Manuel Mendonça’s penalty was then saved by Lisandru Olmeta, with El Chadaille Bitshiabu keeping his cool to send France through to the final.

Electric opening

France took the lead in the 6th minute after Ivan Lima’s unsuccessful attempt to dribble out of danger. Saël Kumbedi took possession of the ball and freed Warren Zaire Emery, the midfielder sending the ball into the top corner from distance.

Portugal were quick to restore parity and equalized in the 12th minute. Sarr’s sloppy pass was intercepted by Ussumane Djaló who found Afonso Moreira, the winger picking his spot and ramming the ball into the far corner.

Both teams looked determined to give each other possession in their own half, with Portugal losing possession in a dangerous area where Tom Saette’s shot stung Diogo Fernandes’ hands.

Spectacular strike

The moment of the match came in the 20th minute with Portugal taking the lead in sensational fashion. Dário Essugo collected the ball from 40 yards out and, without hesitation, launched an unstoppable strike into the top corner, far exceeding Zaire Emery’s effort.

Afonso Moreira proved to be a real handful on the right wing, finding plenty of free space with Sael Kumbedi earning himself the game’s first caution for taking out the winger. Moreira stepped up with his free kick hitting the bar and moving away from danger.

French striker Mathys Tel was struggling to get the ball into the box, so he took matters into his own hands. He was next to try his luck from range, a curling effort that beat Diogo Fernandes and hit the post.

Added time equalizer

Portugal began to sit deep with France monopolizing possession. When it looked like José Lima’s side would take a 2-1 half-time lead, Valentin Atangana’s cross was deflected into his own net by João Muniz.

Just like against Spain, Portugal dictated the game early in the second half. Rodrigo Ribeiro nearly hit a through ball before Ivan Lima shot over the bar.

France then closed when Jeanuël Belocian’s cross spotted Tel from close range, his shot deflected wide.

Afonso Moreira took several heavy blows that wreaked havoc in the 56th minute when he was substituted by Vivaldo Semedo.

Les Bleuets had another chance shortly after when Désiré Doué scored on goal, Fernandes has superb reflexes and a solid hand to keep his side level.

Injury concern

The match took an unfortunate and worrying turn in the 63rd minute when Mamadou Sarr and Ivan Lima were involved in a collision with the two players requiring treatment.

Sarr limped off the pitch and was replaced by Christian Mawissa Elebi, but Lima remained on the ground for several minutes before being carried off the pitch on a stretcher with his neck placed in a splint.

He was replaced by Manuel Mendonça, Rodrigo Ribeiro making way for Dinis Rodrigues.

Saettel’s long shot was deflected by Fernandes before Mendonca and Rodrigues had their shots blocked.

Semedo is getting closer

Portugal’s best chance to regain the lead came in the 78th minute, with João Veloso’s corner kicking off Semedo who headed it just a hair’s breadth from the post.

José Lima made his last two substitutions in the 85th minute, with Martim Fernandes and João Gonçalves replacing João Conceicão and João Veloso. Alcocer responded by bringing in Zoumana Diallo and Alexis Kabamba for Saettel and Doué.

Neither goakpeer was tested for the remainder of the match which required a penalty shootout to determine who would reach the final.

Penalty shootout pain

The first nine penalties were taken with confidence, which forced Mathys Tel to score to keep his team in the tournament. His kick bounced off the bar and bounced off Fernandes in the net.

Manuel Mendonça’s penalty is saved, El Chadaille Bitshiabu keeps his cool to send France to the final.

Analysis

Portugal’s players and support staff are going to be devastated over the next few days and the journey back to Lisbon is going to be a long one. Once the dust settles, they will look back with pride on the campaign in Israel and understand that it has been an important part of their development as professionals and as young men.

The way the loss in Netanya was undeniably cruel, but overcoming adversity as a tight-knit group can only strengthen their bond. Pride was a major theme in the camp as they tried to deal with the situation.

Diogo Monteiro underlined the feeling in the team and described the unfortunate penalty shootout: “I’m very proud of everyone, we really are a family. Our team has always shown unity and we have always We fought until the end and on penalties, luck is part of it, and today luck has nothing to do with us.”

Dário Essugo was unable to take advantage of his spectacular strike as he would have liked, saying “The goal would have tasted better if we had won. But honestly, more than sadness, today I feel enormous pride in this working group.

This group has shown today what it is worth, the effort that we have provided today, the capacity for sacrifice that we have shown after only two days of recovery and in terms of time inferior to the opponent, I think we can only be proud. We showed that we deserved to be in the final.”

José Lima also underlined the pride he felt for his group of players saying: “Our goal was not achieved. We are very sad, but I am very proud of this team and the performance.

I am very proud of this team, very proud of these young players who have given everything for their country, for the clubs they represent and me, as their coach. I repeat, I am very, very proud.

We still don’t know how Ivan is doing, but hopefully he’s doing the best he can and it’s nothing serious. We were very apprehensive, but the players, although very weak at the time, managed to keep their concentration and continue to believe in it. If we reached the final, it was dedicated to Ivan.”

By Matthew Marshall

Alignments

Portugal (4-3-3): Diogo Fernandes – João Conceição (Martim Fernandes 85′), Diogo Monteiro, João Muniz, Leonardo Barroso – Ussumane Djaló, Dário Essugo, João Veloso (João Gonçalves 85′) – Afonso Moreira (Vivaldo Semedo 56′), Rodrigo Ribeiro (Dinis Rodrigues 68′), Ivan Lima (Manuel Mendonca 69′)

Substitutes not used: Francisco Silva, Luis Gomes, Rafael Luis, Tiago Andrade

French (4-2-3-1): Olmeta – Kumbedi, Sarr (Mawissa Elebi 67′), Bitshiabu, Belocian – Zaire-Emery, Atangana Edoa (Gueguin 80′) – Byar, Doué (Diallo 86′), Saettel (Kabamba 86′) – Tel

Substitutes not used: Raveyre, Vangi Vungele, Zidane, Aiki, Ndiaye

Goals

[0-1] – Zaire Emery 8′

[1-1] – Afonso Moreira 12′

[2-1] – Dário Essugo 20′

[2-2] – João Muniz 45’+1 OJ

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