Luiz Felipe Scolari says his side "must improve for the finals" after a 0-0 draw with Finland sent Portugal to UEFA EURO 2008™.
The Porto stalemate tested the hosts' nerves to the limit, as an away win would have been enough for Finland to qualify at their expense, so the Portugal coach was relieved at the final whistle. "We did not expect such a difficult time but we have been suffering with lots of injuries," Scolari said. "I would like to thank all the supporters at the Estádio do Dragão for backing the team. I know we must improve for the finals but it is important to have all our players at 100 per cent capacity."
According to Manchester United FC winger Cristiano Ronaldo, a passionate crowd and a solid team ethic helped the players through a stern test in Group A. "It was a hard qualification," said the 22-year-old. "We knew it was going to be tough against Finland but we showed great team spirit. We did not win, we just did what was needed. We are in the [UEFA] European Championship and that was our goal. We will never forget this day or the supporters. They showed the Portuguese nation's passion for the game. We deserve this qualification."
The match was also memorable for Real Madrid CF's Brazilian-born centre-back Pepe, who made his debut. "It was very difficult but it's somehow more satisfying this way. We deserved it," said the 24-year-old. "It was nice to play my first game for Portugal and to be able to help. This was always my dream. Now we have time to work and we will have a strong team next summer. I believe Portugal can be European champions as we have the players to succeed."
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