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Cary strike leaves Portugal above Serbia

Serbia 1-2 Portugal
Pedro Cary's goal with less than four minutes left earned Portugal victory against their fellow quarter-finalists and first place in Group D.

Pedro Cary celebrates his winner
Pedro Cary celebrates his winner ©Action Images

Portugal made certain of first place in UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 Group D with victory against fellow quarter-finalists Serbia.

Both of these sides were already through after beating Azerbaijan − Portugal winning 4-1 and Serbia prevailing 9-8 − but top spot would mean staying in Zagreb for Tuesday's last-eight ties rather than switching to Split. Arnaldo Pereira put Portugal in front on his 150th appearance only for Ricardinho to score an own goal, but Cary then clinched victory. Russia and Italy's Group D decider tonight will decide who plays who in the next round.

Serbia conceded against Azerbaijan in the eighth second on Friday but they kept it tight from the off this afternoon, and their swift counters certainly worried Portugal. Slobodan Janjić sprinted clear but was denied by João Benedito, who also stopped a Slobodan Rajčević free-kick and saved from Mladen Kocić after he robbed Cardinal.

Mostly, though, Portugal were in possession, Cary shooting wide and Cardinal forcing Miodrag Aksentijević to save. Cary then twice struck over from close range following clever balls from Ricardinho and Cardinal, who himself missed after an interception in Serbia territory.

Just 74 seconds after the interval, the deadlock was broken. Ricardinho again found Cary with a long pass but this time he played back for Arnaldo to smash in. Ricardinho could have had a second, but in front of goal the ball did not fall kindly for his favoured left foot.

With nine minutes left Ricardinho did have the ball in the net, but at the wrong end, his looping defensive header from a Vladimir Lazić's corner sailing over Benedito and in. Keen to make amends, Ricardinho jinked through the Serbia defence but his shot was blocked by Kocić. However, Portugal did get back in front when Joel Queirós found Cary, who this time hit the target.