Portugal completely overpowered Liechtenstein in Vaduz, cruising to a comfortable 9-0 victory in the U21 European Championship qualifiers. The Equipa das Quinas felt plenty of love at Rheinpark Stadion due to a significant Portuguese support, all of whom left proud after a classy display against an inferior opponent.
Portugal were dominant from the first whistle to the last, Fábio Silva hitting a hat-trick and Vítor Oliveira bagging a brace. Paulo Bernardo got in on the act in the first half with Fábio Carvalho, Henrique Araújo and Gonçalo Ramos coming off the bench to score in the final 15 minutes.
Rui Jorge made more changes to give some of his fringe players game time with top spot in Group 4 guaranteed. Zé Carlos, David Costa and Francisco Conceição made their first starts, Gonçalo Tabuaço and Rodrigo Conceição made their debuts in the starting side and Vasco Sousa earned his first U21 cap off the bench.
One way traffic
The pattern of the match was established in the opening minutes with Portugal piling on the pressure and Liechtenstein unable to get out of their own half.
Francisco Conceição pounced on a on a loose clearance with his shot tipped wide by Luca Vanoni. Portugal took the lead from the resulting corner, David Costa’s delivery flicked onto Fabio Silva who headed past Vanoni.
Francisco was hurt after a late challenge from Tim Schreiber but soldiered on, his shot saved before Paulo Bernardo’s shot narrowly missed the top corner.
Portugal were reprising the tactics that worked so effectively in the 11-0 win against Liechtenstein in Vizela, namely balls over the hosts’ defence to bypass a compact low block.
Zé Carlos found Fabio Silva who headed over the bar, Silva then exchanging passes with David Costa before his shot was deflected off the post.
Francisco Conceição was unable to recover from the early knock and was replaced by Vasco Sousa in the 23rd minute.
Late first half flourish
Four minutes later Silva scored his second goal, heading home at the back post after Eduardo Quaresma deflected a corner into his path.
David Costa’s shot was deflected over the bar and Silva headed straight at Vanoni as the chances kept coming. Vasco Sousa went close in the 36th minute, meeting Rodrigo Conceição’s cross with a volley that forced a smart reaction save from Vanoni.
Sousa fired over the bar before turning provider in the 42nd minute, threading the needle with a clever pass to Paulo Bernardo who made no mistake. Portugal made it 4-0 on the stroke of half time when Vítor Oliveira headed Bernardo’s cross into the net.
Call Vanoni a taxi
The second half saw opportunities continue to flow for Rui Jorge’s side. Vasco Sousa shot over the bar, Silva’s header was saved, Vítor Oliveira headed wide and Alexandre Penetra’s free kick missed the target.
Portugal wouldn’t be denied however, Silva securing his hat trick in the 57th minute when he stretched to collect David Costa’s cross, his volley too hot for Vanoni to handle.
Portugal made it 6-0 in the 65th minute after a fine team move. Bernardo released Silva, the striker unselfishly squaring the ball to Vítor Oliveira who executed a simple finish.
Subs get in on the act
Rui Jorge made four substitutions in the 76th minute when Paulo Bernardo, David Costa, Vítor Oliveira and Fábio Silva made way for André Almeida, Fábio Carvalho, Henrique Araújo and Gonçalo Ramos.
The alarm bells were ringing for the hosts and it took less than two minutes for Portugal to score their seventh. Almeida and Rodrigo Conceição combined down the right wing, Conceição’s cross falling to Fábio Carvalho who squeezed his shot through Vanoni’s legs.
It was Henrique Araújo’s turn to get in on the act in the 83rd minute when he met Rafael Rodrigues’ cross and headed the ball into the far corner. Araújo then surged past two defenders and shot wide.
Gonçalo Ramos wouldn't be denied, scoring in the 90th minute to ensure all four strikers left Liechtenstein with a goal. A corner was punched away by Vanoni, the ball coming back into the danger area where Ramos chested the ball down and beat the helpless keeper who picked the ball out of his net for the ninth and final time.
Following on from the 11-0 thrashing in Vizela, Portugal made it 20 goals scored against Liechtenstein who haven't looked like finding the net. The Equipa das Quinas have now scored 39 goals in nine qualifiers with just two conceded.
Rui Jorge's tactics were spot on in Vaduz, the frequent long balls continuing to cause havoc in Liechtenstein's defence who were under the pump for the entirety of the match. Goalkeeper Luca Vanoni had a night to remember for all the wrong reasons.
Jorge continued to hand out debuts and has now used 35 players in the qualifiers. His first choice starting side is close to being established, but he is leaving no stone left unturned in his quest to find players who could add strength to his squad.
The level of opposition must be considered, but David Costa has taken his chance with a goal against Belarus and a produced a strong performance in Vaduz. Many of the players Jorge has fielded this week have been flying under the radar at club level - Costa at Lens, Rodrigo Conceição at Moreirense and Zé Carlos at Varzim.
Francisco Conceição partnered his brother Rodrigo in the starting side, they were clearly enjoying themselves on the right wing before Francisco was forced off the field with an early injury.
Portugal deserve a capacity crowd when they host Greece in Barcelos on Saturday night, the final qualifier in a long and successful campaign with victories secured in Iceland, Cyprus, Greece and Armenia.
9️⃣ GOLOS! ⚽😳 Os Sub-21 golearam o Liechtenstein por 9-0! 🎥 Vê os golos do jogo! pic.twitter.com/QjddSViWm4— Canal 11 (@Canal_11Oficial) June 7, 2022
Portugal (4-3-1-2): Gonçalo Tabuaço - Rodrigo Conceição, Alexandre Penetra, Eduardo Quaresma, Rafael Rodrigues - Paulo Bernardo (André Almeida 77’), Zé Carlos, David Costa (Fábio Carvalho 77’) - Francisco Conceição (Vasco Sousa 23’) - Fábio Silva (Henrique Araújo 77’), Vítor Oliveira (Gonçalo Ramos 77’)
Unused substitutes: Samuel Soares, Gonçalo Inácio, João Mário, Tiago Dantas
Head Coach: Rui Jorge
[1-0] – Fábio Silva 3'
[2-0] – Fábio Silva 27’
[3-0] – Paulo Bernardo 42’
[4-0] – Vítor Oliveira 45’
[5-0] – Fábio Silva 57’
[6-0] – Vítor Oliveira 65’
[7-0] – Fábio Carvalho 78’
[8-0] – Henrique Araújo 80’
[9-0] – Gonçalo Ramos 90’