Despite Portugal being the first team to break their defensive resolve, England progressed to the quarter-finals of Euro 2017 without much of a hiccup, Mark Sampson's much-changed team doing enough to make it three wins from three.
On a platter
Despite trying to press from the off, England found the Portuguese defence stubborn. The Lionesses' gifted their opener less than ten minutes in. A thoughtless clearance from ‘keeper, Patricia Morais cannoned directly against Toni Duggan’s legs, the ‘keeper out of her goal, Duggan had time to recover the ball and tap into the open net.
Kicking on as they have all tournament, Portugal soon found their rhythm and began to work the ball forward, an equaliser not wholly unexpected, the small contingent of Portuguese fans in Tilburg fast making themselves known.
Claudia Neto’s neat ball to Diana Silva gave the Sporting woman a chance to get the ball into the box, her low cross cleared directly back at her for her second bite of the cherry, Carolina Mendes lurking to thump the ball home from close range. The game far more open than many might have expected, Portugal looking for a statement against England’s second string.
Another smart ball through for Silva saw the attacker feeding Mendes again, unmarked the striker easily could have made it two had she timed her header right, Siobhan Chamberlain given a let off. The game rather evened itself out afterwards, both teams looking for the goal to take them ahead – Portugal on the verge of something huge.
England regain the lead
After a subdued first-half, England seemed much more fired up after the break, their lead taken not long after the restart, Nikita Parris’ determination paying off. The youngest player in the squad happy to slip the ball under Morais after some slack defending, Izzy Christiansen due respect for her chipped past to her teammate.
A goal to the good England were able to kick on and find a little more rhythm, seeing more of the ball and having the better of it in midfield. However, even with more of the ball England still struggled to really cut through the red defence, the Selecção das Quinas as stubborn in defence as they had been all tournament.
A little fresher for a substitution, Portugal tried to advance in attack, close but not close enough with a free kick, England pressed forward once again. Looking better for their own attacking sub’, the Lionesses not only saw more of the ball but found more joy with their passing, the team having upped a gear.
The game began to wane in the latter stages, England long since having confirmed their route in the knock-outs. Portugal frustrated as they looked for an equaliser to see them through, the task increasingly harder with every second that passed.
A late free kick and attempted volley had Chamberlain scrambling but there was just no time left for Portugal who bow out of their first major tournament with another gutsy performance, Neto’s team having achieved more than many would have expected.