The Republic of Ireland have been beaten 4-0 by Portugal in the semi-final of the European Under-19 Championship in Armenia.
Goncalo Ramos plundered a hat-trick after Vitor Machado Ferreira had given Portugal the lead from the penalty spot, sealing the reigning champions’ place in the final at the expense of Tom Mohan’s team.
Portugal dominated possession in the opening 30 minutes at Banants Stadium in Yerevan without creating too many chances.
Ireland struggled to maintain possession for long spells, but were well organized and defended resolutely as the Portuguese played in front of them.
Goalkeeper Brian Maher reacted sharply to cut out a dangerous cross from Felix Correia in the seventh minute as Portugal probed for an opening.
Four minutes later, Goncalo Ramos squandered a decent chance from a header after another good cross from Manchester City’s Correia.
The strong sun beat down relentlessly at Banants Stadium, and there was a brief water break in the 19th minute.
Fabio Viera fizzed a low drive narrowly wide of the post in the 22nd minute, and Portugal took the lead from the penalty spot on the half hour mark.
Joe Hodge felled Joao Mario in the box with a trailing leg, with midfielder Ferreira coolly slotting the resulting penalty home from 12 yards.
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 24, 2019
Tom Mohan’s team responded superbly, carving out two huge chances to draw level within a matter of minutes.
Portugal have only conceded one goal in the competition, but suddenly looked extremely vulnerable.
Firstly, Ali Reghba held the ball up superbly under pressure in the Portuguese box before flashing a low cross across the six-yard box.
Celton Biai parried the ball out as far as the onrushing Barry Coffey, but his driven effort was miraculously blocked by Jaoa Pedro Costinha on the line.
Ireland had another massive opportunity moments later, with defender Mark McGuinness side-footing an effort off the crossbar from 12 yards after an excellent pull back from Matt Everitt down the left channel.
The game’s second water break followed, coming at a bad time for the Boys in Green.
Reghba won a corner shortly after the restart as Ireland continued to press, but Mohan’s men were dealt a cruel blow in first half stoppage time.
The impressive Ferreira lifted a cross to the back post, where Ramos awaited unmarked to nod into an empty net to give Portugal a 2-0 lead the break.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 24, 2019
Ramos almost doubled his tally with a powerful header from yet another Correia cross in the sixth minute of stoppage time – there were eight minutes added on – but Maher showed good hands to make a diving catch.
Festy Ebosele replaced the injured Ciarán Brennan for Ireland shortly before the interval, and Jack James was also introduced in place of Jack James early in the second half.
Ramos had another good chance early in the second half, but failed to get sufficient power on his poked effort to trouble Maher after a low cross from the left wing.
However, the 19-year-old made no mistake when another opportunity presented itself on the hour mark.
Hodge was wasteful in possession in his own half and the defending champions punished Ireland ruthlessly.
Mario pulled the ball across the box from the right flank and the arriving Ramos swept the ball emphatically into the top of the net to put the game beyond doubt.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 24, 2019
Conor Grant replaced Barry Coffey as Ireland pushed for a consolation goal, and Tyreik Wright and Andrew Omobamidele were also introduced in the closing stages as the game petered out.
Ireland enjoyed plenty of possession and territorial dominance in the final quarter, with Kameron Ledwidge forcing Biai to tip a ferocious free kick over the bar in stoppage time.
Ramos then completed his hat-trick in the sixth minute of stoppage time to make it 4-0.
The Benfica B attacker finished smartly at the near post after being picked out by Daniel Silva.
Portugal will now face the winners of Spain and France in the final on Saturday.
The 4-0 scoreline was a harsh end to a brilliant tournament for Ireland which saw Tom Mohan use over 30 players.
Ireland were also without star striker Troy Parrott for the entire tournament after Spurs elected to keep the teenager with the club for pre-season.