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The Portuguese party continues after Ricardo's remarkable sudden-death penalty conversion propelled the hosts into the final four of UEFA EURO 2004™ in one of the most dramatic denouements in the competition's history.
The players at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon could barely find words to describe the exhilarating encounter as Portugal defeated England on penalties after the sides had shared four goals in 120 hugely enjoyable minutes of football.
While the match was a thrilling rollercoaster ride for the fans in the stadium and the worldwide television audience, Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari gave an insight into the effect on the non-playing protagonists in his post-match reaction. He said: "I have suffered a lot and certainly will need to have my heart checked.
"The emotions were too strong in this game and I want to give my sincere thanks to all the Portuguese for the way they have been supporting the players and the national team. I also want to thank my players, who were unbeatable throughout the match. We deserved the victory entirely because I believe my squad were always the better team on the pitch."
Scolari, who ended England hopes as Brazil coach at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, was also looking ahead. "Now we are going to celebrate this important triumph and then we will immediately begin preparing for the next match," he said. "I honestly hope that this conquest motivates our players for the remainder of the [UEFA] European Championship. We are going to work hard this week, although it is very important to let the players recover."
Naturally, there were words of praise for Ricardo. The goalkeeper saved from Darius Vassell when bizarrely not wearing gloves and then scored a textbook penalty past opposite number David James to seal the win. Scolari continued: "He is one of Sporting [Clube de Portugal]'s penalty takers, and I never saw him losing a shoot-out. I waited for him to make a great save before letting him shoot, and he scored as he usually does in training."
England, meanwhile, wrote another chapter in the chronicle of 38 years of hurt since their 1966 FIFA World Cup triumph as they exited a major competition on penalties for the fourth time in 14 years. After Italy 1990, EURO '96™ and France in 1998 comes EURO 2004™ and the cruel manner of England's defeat dominated the post-match reaction.
Coach Sven-Göran Eriksson said: "It was a dramatic game - first 1-0, then they equalised, then 2-1 and we came back in extra time, which was amazing. Unfortunately, we lost the penalties, and this is very hard. The team's spirit has been fantastic throughout the tournament and I have no complaints whatsoever about the boys. Losing this way, however, is very hard."
Those sentiments were echoed by striker Michael Owen. He said: "This was a big disappointment for us, but it always seems to happen with penalty shoot-outs. These tournaments come round every two years and we can't expect to win all the time. But going out on penalties when we scored four of the first five is a bitter blow. But they put theirs away and that's that."
Sights on glory
That is that for England but Portugal contemplate a semi-final meeting with Sweden or the Netherlands after advancing to the last four for the third time in four European Championship appearances. Scolari has no preferences as the World Cup winner sets his sights on more glory. "Whichever team comes, we will have to defeat them," he said. "If we want to be the champions, we cannot choose opponents - we have to play and win."
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