A fine Cristiano Ronaldo goal was not enough to earn Portugal a much-needed victory in Armenia as a 1-1 draw left them four points behind the leaders Poland in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group A.
Robert Arzumanyan headed Armenia in front after 12 minutes, but the Manchester United FC winger equalised with a trademark individual effort. If that strike was supposed to be the cue for Portugal to push on for victory, the hosts had not read the script and held on for their third surprise result in a row, having defeated Kazakhstan and Poland away in the last set of fixtures in June.
Samvel Melkonyan and Deco traded shots from range before Arzumanyan put the hosts in front by nodding in Artavazd Karamyan's free-kick. Arzumanyan then passed up an opportunity to double the lead either side of fizzing shots with both feet from Deco, the FC Barcelona playmaker who was central to much of his side’s best moves. Portugal were soon on terms, though, as Armenia defender Agvan Mkrtchyan missed the ball in his own box and Ronaldo capitalised by slotting the ball under Roman Berezovsky after deceiving the goalkeeper by feigning a pass across the middle.
Ronaldo fired a free-kick over the bar from distance after 55 minutes before Luiz Felipe Scolari sought greater attacking impetus with the introduction of Nuno Gomes and Ricardo Quaresma for Hélder Postiga and Simão, who had been ineffective. Tiago fired wide and Quaresma twice missed at the other end as full time approached, although the clearest chance was the final one as Bruno Alves rose unmarked to meet Deco’s cross deep into added time but headed wide – a miss which could prove costly in what is shaping up to be a thrilling section.