African champions Zambia made a dream start to their 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over two-time global winners Portugal in their Group C clash in Jeju on Sunday.
Second-half goals from Edward Chilufya and Fashion Sakala gave Young Chipolopolo the win, after they had at times weathered a Portuguese storm in an entertaining match in which there were 35 attempts on goal between the sides, split almost evenly down the middle.
Portugal pulled a goal back in the first minute of injury-time at the end of the game through Helder, but were made to pay for missed opportunities in the match.
The better chances in the opening half fell to the European side, though neither goalkeeper was unduly troubled.
Portugal playmaker Xadas forced a save from Zambia gloveman Mangani Banda with a shot on the half-volley from outside of the area that was comfortable in the end for the keeper.
At the other end the best opportunity fell to Conlyde Luchanga, who got away a thunderous strike that was straight at Portugal keeper Diogo Costa and he was able to beat the effort away.
Zambia received a blow shortly before halftime when leading forward Patson Daka was replaced by Emmanuel Banda after he took a blow to the mouth and was left bloodied.
There was a final chance in the half for the Portuguese as Xadas’ searching cross to the back post was turned goalward by Diogo Goncalves, but Moses Nyondo was on hand to provide a timely block.
Sakala created a half-chance for himself with a run and shot that was saved by Costa. But minutes later they were in front as Chilufya, the youngest member of the Zambia squad at 17, turned the ball home after Enock Mwepu’s initial shot from the edge if the box was parried into his path by Costa.
Banda then made an excellent stop low to his left after Andre Ribeiro’s shot was deflected and looked to be arrowing into the bottom corner.
Goncalves missed an excellent chance for the equaliser when he skied his shot from six-yards as Portugal piled on the pressure, with Gedson the latest to shoot over with time and space on the edge of the box.
Xadas should have hit the target from 12-yards following another sweeping Portugal move, while at the other end, Costa was almost deceived by a 30-yard dipping effort from Emmanuel Banda. Having moments earlier blasted wide from a good position, Sakala did extend Zambia’s advantage on 76 minutes when he danced past two Portuguese defenders and beat Costa at his near post.
Zambia looked as though they would keep a clean sheet until deep into injury-time when Xande Silva’s shot was only parried by keeper Banda, and Helder turned home the loose ball.
Next up for Zambia is a meeting with Iran on Wednesday, while Portugal take on Costa Rica.