The Qantas Young Socceroos have been narrowly defeated 2-1 in the first of their two international friendly matches against the Portugal U-20 Men’s National team in Lisbon.
Going into the game, the Qantas Young Socceroos were without the services of Terry Antonis due to the Sydney FC midfielder being withdrawn from the squad after suffering a head injury against the Wellington Phoenix in the opening round of the Hyundai A-League, but were bolstered by the late addition of England-based defender Curtis Good.
The Qantas Young Socceroos had the first opportunity of the match when Jamie Maclaren found some space inside the box, but his resulting shot was comfortably saved by the Portuguese goal keeper, Rafael Veloso.
For the first quarter of the match, the Qantas Young Socceroos dominated possession and forced the hosts to turn over.
Portugal had a chance in the 36th minute when André Gomes tried his luck with a powerful shot from outside the box, but Qantas Young Socceroos goal keeper Paul Izzo was up to the task and made an easy save.
Two minutes later, the Qantas Young Socceroos had their best chance of the half when Jackson Irvine won the ball in midfield with a good tackle and then laid off to Adam Taggart who was running towards goal. Taggart then found himself with a one-on-one opportunity with the Veloso but his shot to the keepers right went wide of the target.
The opening goal came just after the hour mark following a series of unfortunate of events for the Qantas Young Socceroos. Portugal’s Betinho had the ball in central position bearing down on goal when Connor Chapman made a tackle on the edge of the box that the referee judged to be a last man challenge and consequently red-carded Chapman.
From Portugal’s resulting free-kick, Adam Taggart, who was in the Qantas Young Socceroos defensive wall, was controversially adjudged to have handled ball which handed the host nation a penalty. Portugal’s captain João Mário made no mistake with his attempt sending Izzo the wrong way in the process to give his team the lead.
Taggart made amends five minutes later when he received a great through ball from Curtis Good inside the Portuguese box and then converted his one-on-one opportunity with a great left foot strike to level the scores.
With the match seemingly destined to end in a draw, Portuguese substitute Tó-Ze crossed into the Qantas Young Socceroos penalty area where he found Aladjé who was able to score the winner deep into additional time.
Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Paul Okon was disappointed to lose the match in such a fashion, but was very proud of how his team played as a whole.
“Today’s game was against a world class opponent. We had a game plan which the players executed to perfection which was really pleasing,” said Okon.
“Against teams like Portugal you have to take your opportunities and we created two very good chances in the first half and should have been leading 2 nil at half time.
“Connor Chapman’s red card left us with 10 men for nearly 30 minutes we continued to play good attacking football and Adam Taggart’s great goal was a reward for the whole effort of the team.
“While it was disappointing to concede a goal in the final minute of extra time it does not take away from an outstanding performance from the whole team.
“We look forward to the second match against Portugal on Sunday,” concluded Okon.
The Qantas Young Socceroos will again face the Portugal U-20 Men’s National team on Sunday 14 October at the National Stadium in Lisbon.