Portugal demolished England 4-1 at the Ammochostos Stadium in Larnaca on Friday night to maintain their perfect start to the Uefa under 17 championship.

England did have the better of the opening exchanges, with both Shumaira Mheuka and Ethan Nwaneri forcing Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Ferreira into early saves.

At the other end, Portugal’s Rodrigo Mora was a livewire, twisting and turning in and around England’s defence, though was unable to get either of his two early shots on target.

Portugal then managed to build a sustained period of pressure, penning England into their own half for most of a ten-minute spell midway through the first half, though the Three Lions’ defence remained resolute, and save for one Cardoso Varela shot, restricted Portugal’s threat.

It was after withstanding that pressure that England created their best chance of the first half, Christian McFarlane playing a neat through ball to Mikey Moore down the left-hand side. Moore’s low cross found Shumaira Mheuka, whose first-time shot was well saved by Ferreira.

Portugal eventually took the lead ten minutes before half time. Cardoso Varela found space on the left and set the ball to Rodrigo Mora, who arrowed his shot low and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

England wobbled a little after the goal, facing their first touch of difficulty after steamrollering France at the same venue on Tuesday night. Suddenly, their defence looked jittery, and their passing was less crisp than it had been in the opening exchanges.

However, they eventually gathered themselves and found a way back into the game just before half time. Ethan Nwaneri set Leo Shahar free down the right, and Shahar’s low cross could only be palmed away by Diogo Ferreira into the path of Mikey Moore, who made no mistake to score from close range.

Portugal retook the lead immediately after half time when Martim Cunha’s lofted ball over the top of England’s defence found Cardoso Varela, who nipped the ball past the onrushing Ollie Harrison before squaring the ball for Rodrigo Mora to tap into an empty net for his second of the game.

England almost equalised straight after, with a cross from Leo Shahar finding Mikey Moore, whose half-volleyed finish cleared the crossbar.

From that moment on, England had a period of sustained pressure. Moore came the closest to scoring, running past three Portuguese defenders before Diogo Ferreira’s left hand made just about enough contact with the shot to send the ball trickling past his post.

Portugal were able to weather the storm, however, and then doubled their lead with 25 minutes remaining when Cardoso Varela found space down the left hand side and then found Gabriel Silva in the box.

Silva made no mistake with the finish, slotting the ball beyond Spike Brits in the England goal and into the bottom right-hand corner.

Four minutes later, they put the game beyond all doubt. Rodrigo Mora rounded Spike Brits before passing the ball square to Afonso Patrao, who passed the ball into the empty net with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.

With a three-goal cushion, Portugal were able to exert more control on the game and decide the tempo at which it should be played.

On the rare occasions where their defence was breached, Diogo Ferreira was not only equal to the challenge, but produced an exquisite save to deny Divine Mukasa from 20 yards, not only saving but catching a shot which was destined for the top corner in what proved to be the last meaningful act of the match.

Elsewhere, France beat Spain 1-0 at Larnaca’s Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, with Enzo Molebe scoring the only goal of the match five minutes from time.

Portugal are therefore all but through to the quarter finals, requiring only a draw from their final match against France on Monday to make progression absolutely sure. England also still have their fate in their own hands, knowing that victory over Spain on the same night will see them through.

Earlier, Italy ensured they would qualify for the quarter finals as Group C winners with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Slovakia at the Ethnikos Stadium in Achna. First half goals from Francesco Camarda and Mattia Liberali were the difference between the sides.

In the other Group C fixture, Poland battled back from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw against Sweden. Genesis Antwi gave Sweden an early lead, which was cancelled out by Jakub Adkonis. Fred Bozicevic then put Sweden ahead for a second time, before Michael Izunwanne’s goal ensured the points would be shared.