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Portugal moved into a three-way tie at the top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group H after grinding out a 1-0 win against Norway in Lisbon.
Hélder Postiga's 53rd-minute goal was enough to give Paulo Bento's men the spoils as they joined Norway and Denmark – 2-0 winners tonight in Iceland – on ten points, in a qualification race that promises to go to the wire.
Norway's win in the sides' September encounter in Oslo was their first against Portugal in nine meetings dating back to 1966. Entering the match as group leaders they began confidently, and Bjørn Helge Riise warmed Eduardo's hands inside the first minute with a long-range shot.
Norway coach Egil Olsen said before the game that "nothing but a win will interest Portugal", and their menacing midfield showed intent early on, with both João Moutinho and Raul Meireles spearing shots narrowly wide from outside the area. Then a trademark dipping free-kick from Cristiano Ronaldo saw Rune Jarstein take no chances in the tenth minute, the keeper firmly punching away.
Yet a superbly drilled Norway began to frustrate Portugal, and created the half's clearest chances via a handful of swift counterattacks. The Scandinavians nearly caught Bento's men out in the 17th minute, but Eduardo plunged smartly to push away Erik Huseklepp's shot after the AS Bari man was released by Bjørn Helge Riise's excellent pass.
The winger's delivery continued to impress and when Meireles fluffed an attempt to clear his low cross on 24 minutes, Morten Gamst Pedersen blazed the first period's best opportunity over the top when well placed.
The selecção das quinas continued to press patiently, though when a painstakingly constructed move culminated with Fábio Coentrão floating a perfect cross onto Ronaldo's head, the captain could only direct his effort straight at Jarstein. Undeterred, Portugal began the second half clearly focused on taking control of matters. Postiga's low shot was pushed around the post by Jarstein, then Nani drilled a fine left-footed effort just wide.
Instead it was Postiga who provided the breakthrough when he prodded in smartly at the near post after beating John Arne Riise to Nani's curled centre. Bento's team then moved to kill the game, and Jarstein was in action again to deny Carlos Martins' firm drive. The home crowd grew tense as their side tired towards the end of a tight tie, although Ronaldo almost calmed their nerves with an added-time effort which just missed.
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