A first half brace from Shaq Coulthirst was added to late in the game when Anton Walkes converted Andros Townsend’s square ball and then substitute Emmanuel Sonupe slotted home as we breezed past the Portuguese giants 4-0 at Stevenage to leapfrog them into top spot in the final group standings.
Reflecting on the game, which saw our lads dominate possession against a strong visiting side, Under-21s Coach Ugo was delighted with the manner in which the players went about their business in a game that was enjoyed by a large number of families at the Lamex Stadium in the countdown to Christmas.
“Porto are a very dangerous side but in the end we’ve got the better of them with our precision, our directness, our football and our organisation,” he said.
“It was nice to see Shaq get his goals because he missed a few chances in the last game (a 1-1 draw at Everton last week) and, although it was a tap-in for Anton, those are the eye-catching runs that he’s got to make and there was nobody more determined to get in the middle of the goal than Anton, so that was also pleasing.
“Emmanuel Sonupe has been a bit unlucky not to start the game today with the way he’s trained and the impact that he’s made in games, but again I’m pleased to see him score and he really wanted to get his goal.
“We were still a bit sloppy at times when we were playing square passes around the defensive areas but otherwise I thought we were very good value for the win, we looked comfortable and the players expressed themselves really well.”
Having registered back-to-back wins over Schalke and Porto following our disappointing 4-1 defeat away to Everton in the first game of the tournament, we’ll now meet Chelsea in the quarter-finals in the New Year.
Ugo underlined how the variety of tests the players have been put through so far in 2015-16 can only benefit them in their later careers.
“In the first game of this tournament we lost 4-1, but that was a million miles away from where we were today against Porto,” he added. “In each game the boys have shown great footballing belief and a sense of bravery to get on the ball and play.
“When you combine that with organisation and work ethic, you’ve got a chance of winning and dominating football matches.”