Two last-gasp goals saw Portugal book their place in the Uefa under 17 championship final, turning a 2-1 deficit into a dramatic 3-2 victory over Serbia, having previously been 2-0 down at the AEK Arena in Larnaca on Sunday evening.

It was Serbia who had the upper hand in the opening exchanges, almost taking the lead in the first minute when an errant backpass found the feat of Aleksa Vasilic. Vasilic’s shot was tame, but a sign of things to come.

Djorde Rankovic then tried a speculative shot from 25 yards out which was tipped over the crossbar by Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Ferreira.

However, Portugal carried a threat on the counterattack, and Serbia’s high defensive line allowed Cardoso Varela to be played clean through on goal by Rodrigo Mora after a Serbian corner, but eventually seeing the chance snuffed out as Vasilije Kostov managed to get back in time to cover.

Andrija Maksimovic then had two quickfire efforts saved by Diogo Ferreira from the edge of the penalty area, before Geovany Quenda’s thundered effort skimmed off the top of the crossbar at the other end.

Portugal missed a gilt-edged chance just shy of the 20-minute mark, when a drilled kick from Rodrigo Ferreira’s hands was deftly flicked on by Rodrigo Mora to put Cardoso Varela clean through on goal. Varela’s shot was dragged wide of the post, and his exasperated reaction showed he knew he should have scored.

Then, as sure as night follows day, a missed chance at one end was preceded by a goal at the other. Mihajlo Cvetkovic was the scorer, playing a neat one-two with Dusan Makevic before curling the ball just inside the right-hand post.

Serbia were nearly two goals to the good before half an hour had been played, with Cvetkovic’s through ball being deflected into the path of Andrija Maksimovic, whose shot whizzed past the post.

Portugal then almost found an equaliser, with Rodrigo Mora having a shot cleared off the line by Vasilije Kostov after a clever piece of footwork from Gabriel Silva to create the chance.

However, it was Serbia who scored the game’s second goal and doubled the lead.

Cvetkovic was once again involved, playing a lobbed pass to Djorde Rankovic. Rankovic’s low shot was saved by Diogo Ferreira, but the ball then ricocheted off Portuguese defender Eduardo Felicissimo and into the net.

Serbia then almost had a third just before half time, with a punted clearance from Viktor Stojanovic finding its way into the path of Aleksa Vasilic via a botched clearance from Afonso Sousa.

Vasilic bore down on goal, and his eventual toe-punted shot was deflected off Rui Silva, trickling past a wrongfooted Diogo Ferreira and being brought to a stop by the left-hand goalpost, where it was then collected by a grateful Ferreira.

An end-to-end start to the second half once again saw Serbia creating the better chances, the clearest of which created by a Mihajlo Cvetkovic pass which put Djorde Rankovic clean through on goal.

Diogo Ferreira scarpered out to meet him, with Rankovic then taking the ball beyond the onrushing Portuguese goalkeeper before attempting to chip the ball over the defenders who had got back to cover, his shot bouncing off the underside of the crossbar and eventually being cleared.

Portugal had another gilt-edged chance minutes later, an arrowed long ball from Eduardo Felicissimo putting Geovany Quenda one-on-one with Serbian goalkeeper Vukasin Jokanovic.

However, instead of picking his spot and shooting, Quenda attempted to lay the ball off to Gabriel Silva, but his pass was long, and the danger passed. Portugal eventually recycled the ball for Joao Simoes to have a shot from range, but it was comfortably over the crossbar.

Portugal then found their way back into the tie on the hour mark when Geovany Quenda drove a free kick into a dangerous area and Gabriel Silva beat Vukasin Jokanovic to the ball to head it in.

With the deficit reduced to a single goal, Portugal turned the screw in search of an equaliser.

A first time volleyed through ball from Duarte Soares found Afonso Patrao, who attempted to take the ball around Jokanovic, being put off enough to be unable to get a clean shot away, with Serbia able to clear from the ensuing scramble.

A minute later, a Soares cross met the head of Geovany Quenda, with the ball then cannoning off the head of Viktor Stojanovic before another scramble in the box and another panicked Serbian clearance.

From that moment onwards, Serbia’s attention turned to attempting to see the game out, with a host of defensive substitutions and a change of shape.

However, with a little over ten minutes remaining, they almost restored their two-goal advantage when a well-worked attacking move ended with Aleksa Vasilic taking the ball round Diogo Ferreira and getting a shot away, but Rui Silva cleared the ball off the line to keep Portugal in the game.

Serbia’s resolute defence eventually did break with just a minute remaining, a low cross from Eduardo Fernandes glancing in off the left boot of Rodrigo Mora, the tournament’s star player who had hitherto had an uncharacteristically quiet game but turned up when his country needed him most.

With the tie level, Serbia were there for the taking and begging for the full time whistle, having thought of little but defending for most of the second half.

Mora almost won it for Portugal, twisting and turning and seeing his shot flash the wrong side of the near post, before a volley from Joao Trovisco flashed over the crossbar.

Trovisco was the one to see his name up in lights in the 95th minute, however, when a cross from Edgar Mota was arrowed into the centre of the penalty area. He fired his header into the roof of the net to cue pandemonium among the travelling Portuguese contingent in the stands, the Portuguese bench, and the 11 players on the pitch.

The Serbs were left dejected on the ground thinking of what might have been, while Portugal, having qualified for it in the most dramatic circumstances possible, now have the final on Wednesday to plan for.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail after the game, Rodrigo Mora said, “there were tough moments in the game, but we never gave up and we got where we had to be in the end.”

Asked how it feels to make the final, he said, “it feels fantastic, but we have to win.”

Portugal’s opponents in Wednesday’s final will be Italy, who beat Denmark 1-0 in their semi final at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca thanks to a Federico Coletta goal.

The final will be played at Limassol’s Alphamega Stadium on Wednesday.

Rodrigo Mora after the game with a poster given to him by a fan