Portugal advance to quarter finals, Spain eliminated
LISBON, June 20
(SW) - With a goal from substitute Nuno Gomes in the second half,
Portugal are through to the quarter finals while Spain are left
in tears after yet another unsuccessful European campaign.
The battle of the Iberian giants saw two players receiving a
yellow card in the opening phase. For Portugal, Pauleta handled
the ball in the 7th minute and soon after that, Spanish
midfielder Albelda challenged Deco. Both will miss a possible
Portugal were the better side at the start and Scolari's players
were pushing for an opening goal, as they need a victory to
survive the group.
In the 17th minute the Spanish survived a strong Portuguese
attack which ended with Figo's shot being blocked by a defender
and Fernando Torres went for a counter-attack but received no
help from his teammates.
Cristiano Ronaldo delivered a dangerous shot on the Spanish goal
three minutes later but Real Madrid goalkeeper Ikér Casillas did
well to block the attempt and kept his net clean.
As the Greeks were trailing 2-0 in Faro-Loulé at this point,
they relied on the Spanish to at least keep Portugal to a draw
but the hosts were most dominant and the opening goal seemed to
be a matter of time.
Portuguese right-back Miguel was close to scoring it in the 20th
minute as he tested Casillas again but the goalkeeper was still
awake and saved his team once again.
The home crowd got a scare soon afterwards as Ricardo had to
leave his goal to prevent a chance for Fernando Torres. The
goalkeeper was focused however and conquered the ball with two
legs as he came sliding in.
Spain got another chance in the 35th minute when Raúl only just
failed to control a powerful cross from the left wing. The
Spanish were slowly finding their way into the game although the
Portuguese attacks still seemed most dangerous.
Luis Figo delivered a good cross in stoppage time and Cristiano
Ronaldo jumped higher than the defenders but his header went
wide. With that, the Portuguese only have 45 minutes left to
The second half started with one chance as Nuno Gomes came on
for Pauleta, who had not been having a good first half. The 27
year old had to reinforce the team in the hunt for a quick goal
in the second half.
Where as in the first half, Portugal were the dominant side in
the opening phase, it was now Spain to push forward. With the
current scores in the two matches, they would go through as
However in the 57th minute it was Portugal to finally break the
deadlock when Nuno Gomes struck in without mercy after a
combination with Figo. Now, Portugal would win the group with
Greece ending in second position.
Five minutes later, Fernando Torres almost equalized when he hit
Ricardo's post. Spain now had to score back, or depend on the
score between Russia and Greece, where the Russians would have
to score one more for Spain to go through.
Goalscorer Nuno Gomes was yellow-carded by referee Anders Frisk
from Sweden after a foul on Barcelona defender Carles Puyol.
A Valencian substitution followed in the 66th minute when coach
Iñaki Saez replaced Albelda, who had kept a low profile so far,
with Rubén Baraja.
The next booking was for Spain as Juanito blocked Maniche as the
Spanish were unable to hunt for an equalizer. At this stage,
Portugal were aiming for a second goal and spent most of the
time on the Spanish half.
Saez made another change in the 72nd minute as he took off young
Betis Sevilla player Joaquín and replaced him with Deportivo's
Puyol was the next in line to receive a yellow card after a foul
on Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been playing a good match for
Portugal so far.
Spain now started to put pressure on the Portuguese defense and
came closer to an equalizer. Juanito hit the crossbar in the
76th minute, adding to the Spanish frustration.
Two minutes later, Scolari took off playmaker Luis Figo, who was
guided by a big applause from the fans as he walked from the
pitch, and Petit came on for the remaining 12 minutes to defend
After Vicente Rodriguez' shot in the 80th minute went wide,
Iñaki Saez used his last substitution to replace central
defender Juanito with striker Fernando Morientes.
Scolari now focused completely on his team's defensive line as
he replaced the impressive Cristiano Ronaldo with Fernando Couto
in the 84th minute.
Maniche was close to a second goal for Portugal in the 85th
minute when his header went only just over Casillas' crossbar.
Spain were still alive but time was running out.
While the fans were biting on their nails in the stadium, coach
Scolari had to be held back by one of his own players as he was
passionately discussing a matter with Spain's winger Vicente.
In the 91st minute, Maniche almost scored as he got around
Casillas but his shot on goal was held by defender Raúl Bravo in
a last attempt to keep his team alive.
Spain were unable to score the required equalizer in the last
minutes and the biggest chances were actually for Portugal. With
the final whistle, Portugal were through to the quarter finals
were Spain were once again eliminated at a final tournament.