Paul Doolin's Ireland under-19 side suffered a disappointing late loss to Group 4 hosts Portugal in their first U19 Euro 2012 Elite Stage qualifierThe Republic of Ireland under-19 side were unlucky not to get at least a point from their first Elite Stage qualifier for the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Championships.
Paul Doolin's Irish side were on top for large periods of the game, and should have taken an early lead when Portuguese goalkeeper Miguel Veloso took down Samir Carruthers in the area. Veloso picked up a booking for his troubles, but redeemed himself by saving Anthony Forde's spot kick.
Veloso saved Forde's penalty kick, but the referee ordered a retake, only for Veloso to repeat the feat and keep Ireland out. Watford's Sean Murray had a decent chance as the first half wore on, but could not keep his effort on target after a decent ball in from John O'Sullivan.
Ireland didn't have it all their own way, and Portugal had a few chances of their own. Cafu had a good headed effort kept out by Sean McDermott, and the Arsenal keeper was more than a match for Tiago Ferreira's shot before the interval.
Samir Carruthers was probably Ireland's best player, and saw Veloso keep him out after 56 minutes. Carruthers had another good chance ten minutes later, but saw his curled shot clear the crossbar.
However, despite dominating for large periods, Ireland were undone with three minutes remaining. Ricardo Esgaio hit a dangerous cross into the box, which struck Michael Barker's shin and went past McDermott to give Portugal a late lead.
Ireland had a chance right at the death to equalise, but Veloso was on hand once again to keep out a stinging shot from Derrick Williams and give Portugal a crucial win.
Paul Doolin's side face Ukraine and Israel later this week, knowing that two wins are the minumum requirement, as only the top team qualifies for the European U19 Championship finals in Estonia in July.