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Fan power lifts Portugal

Published: Sunday 20 June 2004, 23.45CET
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari paid tribute to his side's "amazing" supporters after the crucial 1-0 victory against Spain.
by David Farrelly
from Lisbon

Match statistics


Goals scored0
Attempts on target2
Attempts off target4
Fouls committed23
Yellow cards3
Red cards0


Last updated: 27/06/2012 11:58 CET


P: Played   
Pts: Points   
Published: Sunday 20 June 2004, 23.45CET

Fan power lifts Portugal

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari paid tribute to his side's "amazing" supporters after the crucial 1-0 victory against Spain.

Portugal entered their final UEFA EURO 2004™ Group A match against Spain more in hope than expectation, knowing that they needed to end a streak spanning exactly 23 years in which they had not beaten their Iberian neighbours. But there was considerably more at stake on this occasion as the Portuguese knew that only a win would keep them in a competition which they are proudly hosting.

Tactical change
Although not visibly overawed by the tense occasion, the Portuguese failed to threaten consistently enough during the opening half in and around the Spanish penalty area to get the goal that some of their neat and attractive approach work merited. In Deco, Luís Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, they possess three of the most skilful and exciting ball players in the world, but lacking an obvious scoring threat, Luiz Felipe Scolari's side were failing to profit from the many opportunities created. But the introduction of Nuno Gomes for Pauleta at the interval combined with the changes Scolari made to move Figo into a more central attacking role with Deco switched to the left, proved to be the masterstroke.

Clear objectives
"After the bad start we had against Greece we knew that we had to win our two remaining matches and that has been our attitude," Scolari said. "But for me every match is like that – do or die – and this one was no exception. The fans were amazing, not just the 12th player but the 13th and 14th. We'd like to thank all the supporters who came here and all those who were in Alcochete when we left that training camp - that spurred us on. This team is now more competitive and I hope we've helped a lot of people to have a day of happiness."

Gradual improvement
The cacophony of car horns beeping as fans made their way home from Estádio José Alvalade bore testimony to the Portuguese fans' intention of enjoying the moment, but their team will look to build on this win as Figo asserted that the team now had the possibility of playing their way into the competition having initially being on the receiving end of a shock 2-1 defeat by Greece in the opening match of the finals. "We have done a great job and we deserve to qualify for the quarter-finals," he said. "We were under a lot of pressure as the last match decided everything and we are home so we had very high expectations. But now the country can hope for better things in the future. We are improving with the passing of time. The first game wasn't easy for us because there was lots of pressure. Now we're getting better so let's see what we can do in the quarter-finals."

Spanish regret
The Spanish exited the competition on goals scored, and although they created their fair share of scoring chances, coach Iñaki Sáez was left to ponder the several tactical changes that were made entering this match including the decision to leave Fernando Morientes on the bench for 75 minutes despite the fact that he had scored in Spain's 1-1 draw with Greece and looked to have extended the rich vein of scoring form he had built up last season with AS Monaco FC.

Lack of firepower
"We made some changes to our team as we felt that lineup was the best for absorbing the likely pressure and attempting to catch them on the counterattack," Sáez said. "Our plan was going well until they scored when the face of the game changed completely. We played well and the only thing which was missing from our performance were goals. We haven't scored enough of them and in the end that has counted against us with Greece going through on goal difference. Then when you make substitutions and they don't work they cannot be regarded as good ones. The players we did bring on were all positive ones - [Rubén] Baraja and Morientes both gave us extra penetration but we couldn't score. There was no problem defensively, so no blame can be attributed to defence. Portugal went out and played the game they had to. They've qualified and fair play to them."

Last updated: 21/06/04 0.12CET