Portugal, Sweden tame rivals in s-finals

OLOMOUC (Czech Republic) - Portugal's footballers reached their first European Under-21 Championship final in 21 years with a 5-0 victory over Germany on Saturday that was as thrilling as it was emphatic in inflicting the Mannschaft's worst competitive defeat at this level.

The Portuguese 1994 vintage featured Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Joao Pinto and there is plenty of reason for optimism here that Rui Jorge's young side are worthy heirs to that illustrious trio.

William Carvalho was exceptional at the base of a midfield diamond, Bernardo Silva was at times unplayable at the tip and the front two of Ivan Cavaleiro and Ricardo were slippery yet sharp.

Figo and Co lost to an Italian team, featuring Fabio Cannavaro, Christian Panucci and Pippo Inzaghi, but this side will be expected to go one better in Prague tomorrow.

Portugal, who had scored just two goals in three group matches, were in control from the start in Olomouc and netted three times in a 20-minute spell.

The Germans, who had World Cup winner Matthias Ginter and Champions League-winning goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in their line-up, were simply swept aside.

To add to their misery, Leonardo Bittencourt was sent off in the 75th minute for a second bookable offence.

In the second semi-final in Prague, underdogs Sweden, who qualified from their group at the expense of England and Italy, thumped neighbours Denmark 4-1 .

The hard-working Swedes took the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute and scored a second three minutes later.

They then put up a sterling defensive effort and were organised and energetic in their tackling and harrying.

Denmark pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute and then launched an onslaught.

However, the Swedes exploited the space behind to score twice more on the break.

Portugal and Sweden drew 1-1 in the group stage.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2015, with the headline 'Portugal, Sweden tame rivals in s-finals'. Print Edition | Subscribe