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2023 UEFA Euro U19: Italy crowned European champions after defeating Portugal

[Credit: Seb Daly]

Michael Kayode’s first-half header proved decisive as Italy defeated previously unbeaten Portugal to claim the UEFA U19 European title.

This victory marks Italy’s second triumph in the history of the competition, with their first win coming 20 years ago against Portugal in Lichtenstein.

Portugal had dominated their semi-final match against Norway, winning 5-0 to maintain their flawless campaign. Meanwhile, Italy faced a thrilling battle with Spain in the semi-finals, emerging as 3-2 victors to secure their spot in the final.

Italy had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the ninth minute through Francesco Pio Esposito, who narrowly missed connecting with a precise cross from Filippo Missori.

However, just ten minutes later, Fiorentina’s Kayode rose to head the ball into the net from a deep delivery by Luis Hasa, giving Italy the lead.

Italy continued to apply pressure throughout the first half, with Hasa testing the Portuguese goalkeeper Gonçalo Ribeiro from 18 yards out after some excellent hold-up play by Esposito.

Hasa came close to scoring again six minutes later, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. The Juventus midfielder played a vital role for Italy throughout the match.

In the 53rd minute, Samuele Vignato almost doubled Italy’s lead with a powerful run towards the Portuguese defense, but Ribeiro managed to deal with his shot.

Portugal intensified their attack just before the hour mark, forcing Italy’s defense to face some pressure. Gustavo Sá’s goal-bound effort was deflected for a corner, and moments later, Davide Mastrantonio made a crucial save to deny Martim Fernandes’ header.

In the 74th minute, Hasa delivered a high ball to Esposito, who controlled it well but failed to hit the target, dragging his shot wide.

Vignato had another opportunity to extend Italy’s lead, but Ribeiro stood strong and kept the winger out from close range.

Italy demonstrated resilience against a frustrated Portugal and held on to their 1-0 lead, securing the U19 Euro championship title.

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