The Italy and Portugal’s under-21’s played out a rather entertaining goalless draw in the European Championships on Sunday night, but the point will suit the latter as they top Group B going into the final round of fixtures.
(Video highlights) Sweden U21’s 0-1 England U21’s: Late goal from Manchester United starlet Jesse Lingard wins it for young Three Lions
Ten truly MASSIVE Transfers that are likely to happen this summer including Man United spending spree, £43m Chelsea raid & £60m Pogba swoop
Portugal went into the game on the back of a well deserved win over England last Thursday and knew if they avoided defeat against the Italians then they would remain in control of their own destiny.
Meanwhile the Italians were under pressure following a disappointing opening day defeat against Sweden, despite playing for the majority of that match with a one-man advantage.
They started the game on the front foot and could have taken the lead after just six minutes when a fine pass from Juventus youngster Domencio Berardi found Andrea Belotti, whose first time effort was blocked by Portugal keeper Jose Sa.
Sa was called into action once again not too long after as he produced a fine stop to divert Marco Benassi’s effort from range for a corner.
The Portuguese youngsters gradually grew into the game and should have opened the scoring 10 minutes before the interval but Joao Mario failed to convert from close range when it looked easier to score.
Belotti went close again to breaking the deadlock in the opening minutes of the second half as he bravely challenged Jose Sa for a ball in the air but saw his header hit the top of the bar.
The game looked to be destined for a draw as the second half drew to its conclusion, although there could have been a winner if the finishing from either side was better.
Firstly Carlos Mane brilliantly jinked his way into the penalty area, but lacked composure when it came to the finish and sent his effort well wide.
Then a few minutes later Italian keeper Francesco Bardi produced another fine stop at his near post to deny Iuri Medeiros a late winner.
There was still time for a heart in mouth moment for Portugal in injury time as Italian left-back Cristiano Biraghi was released clean through on goal but his first touch was poor and was unable to get a shot away, meaning he lost a great chance to win the game for his nation.
The final whistle blew soon afterwards and Portugal remain top of the group and need just a point against Sweden to qualify for the semi-finals, while Italy, who were finalists in 2013, must beat England to have any hopes of reaching the knockout stages.