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Ivanović strike denies Portugal points

Portugal 1-1 Serbia A last-gasp equaliser from Branislav Ivanović denied Portugal the chance to climb into second place in UEFA EURO 2008™ Group A.

A last-gasp equaliser from Branislav Ivanović denied Portugal second place in Group A and kept alive Serbia's hopes of reaching UEFA EURO 2008™.

Sublime free-kick
Portugal could have closed to within two points of leaders Poland with a victory and they appeared on course when Simão fired them in front after eleven minutes but Ivanović stunned the home crowd with an 88th-minute leveller to leave Serbia just a point behind their opponents. The home side made the perfect start as Simão's precise free-kick, awarded after Nenad Kovačević had fouled Cristiano Ronaldo, found the target.

Portugal pressure
The Portuguese had Petit to thank for preserving their lead after he produced a fantastic block minutes later to deny Zdravko Kuzmanović's goalbound effort. Then Nuno Gomes headed Bosingwa's inviting cross against a Serbia post and Maniche blasted the rebound straight at goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković. Ronaldo went close with two further efforts as Portugal searched for a telling second goal.

Late leveller
Serbia became more composed as the second half progressed and Kovačević wasted a glorious chance to restore parity by firing a half-volley over the crossbar following Ricardo's poor punch. The real drama came late on, however, as with two minutes to play, Dejan Stanković's free-kick caused panic in the Portugal penalty area and Ivanović was able to turn the ball in from close range.

Tight group
There was still time for Ivica Dragutinović to receive a red card in added time but Serbia had done enough to earn the draw. Group A could not be much tighter ahead of October and November's qualifiers, with Poland and Finland on 21 and 19 points respectively, Portugal two points further back in third, and Serbia a point behind them in fourth – with the latter two countries each having a game in hand.