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Portugal enjoy 'perfect' defeat of Azerbaijan

Published: Thursday 2 February 2012, 0.45CET
Portugal's joy was clear after their 4-1 win against a frustrated Azerbaijan, Ricardinho reliving a "magic" goal and João Matos saying the 2010 runners-up were now even stronger.
by Nuno Tavares & Paul Saffer
from Arena Zagreb
Portugal enjoy 'perfect' defeat of Azerbaijan
Thiago (Azerbaijan) & Ricardinho (Portugal) ©Action Images
 

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Published: Thursday 2 February 2012, 0.45CET

Portugal enjoy 'perfect' defeat of Azerbaijan

Portugal's joy was clear after their 4-1 win against a frustrated Azerbaijan, Ricardinho reliving a "magic" goal and João Matos saying the 2010 runners-up were now even stronger.

Jorge Braz, Portugal coach
In the first half we were a little bit disorganised, but that is normal in the first game of a competition like this. In the second half we were organised, we were running into the right places, defensively, offensively. When you do that with quality organisation of the five players on the pitch, it's easier. That's what happened.

Ricardinho, Portugal goalscorer
In my opinion we had an excellent match and we will try to do the same against Serbia, opponents we know very well from facing them in the past. I have been learning year after year and it helps a lot to have started my career so young and also the fact that I've learned with the best. It's always good when the magic appears but the most important thing is to work well and for the team.

Gonçalo, Portugal defender
It is very important to start a competition like this one with a win. I think we managed to respond well to what was asked of us. Every player knew exactly what he had to do on the pitch and when that's the case and you play without the fear of losing than we become one of the top European teams.

João Matos, Portugal defender
Above all it was crucial to start our campaign with a triumph. We played well and we controlled every single aspect of the game. In the first half we were forced to defend a bit more but in the second we started in a more decisive way and our quality did the rest. We were perfect in handling every moment of the match.

This win gives us more confidence and puts us in a more relaxed position for our next match. Having said that it does not mean that we will have an easy task against Serbia, far from it. It will be like another final for us. I do believe that tonight we proved that we are a better squad when compared with two years ago, when we faced Azerbaijan. The players of both teams were pretty much the same but we were much stronger tonight.

Alesio, Azerbaijan coach
I think we played well. We were not inferior to Portugal and the main reason for our defeat has to do with the fact they scored more goals than us. We were well organised and it is a shame that we come out of this match with a defeat. I think it was a very even game but then again we were facing the runners-up of the last European Championship.

Portugal worked well as a team and they were able to convert their chances. We missed ours and we ultimately paid the price for that. Our goalkeeper is having his best period. He's working hard to recover his form but he's 44 years old and that makes things harder.

Serjão, Azerbaijan forward
We already knew we were going to have a very tough match tonight. Portugal managed to score two early goals in quick succession and we were able to get one back, but then we missed several chances to draw level. It was like whenever we missed a chance they scored a goal.

The score was 2-1 and we should have scored but instead we conceded a goal on the counterattack. The same thing happened with their fourth goal. Against teams like Portugal its game over when you don't take your chances. This is the European Championship and you can't make mistakes like the ones we did.

Alves, Azerbaijan forward
It wasn't the start we imagined and wanted but that's the result you get when you miss as many chances as we did against such a strong team as Portugal. When you don't score there's always a risk you are going to concede and Portugal took advantage of our incapacity to convert the several chances we created.

Now we have to keep our heads up and start to think about our next match because there's still a lot to play for and we want to qualify. It's true that we missed Biro Jade tonight, especially because he is a leader on the pitch but we have several quality players who did their best. It just wasn't our night.

Last updated: 02/02/12 13.10CET

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