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Scolari's Portugal too strong for Turkey in EURO 2008 Group A

Portugal 2-0 Turkey
Second-half goals from Pepe and Raul Meireles put Luiz Felipe Scolari's side in pole position in Group A.

Pepe celebrates making the breakthrough
Pepe celebrates making the breakthrough ©Getty Images

Losers on the opening day four years ago, Portugal made a sure-footed start to UEFA EURO 2008 as second-half strikes from Pepe and substitute Raul Meireles secured all three points against Turkey in Geneva.

It was a deserved victory for Luiz Felipe Scolari's men who also rattled the woodwork twice through Nuno Gomes. For Turkey, by contrast, defeat here continued their unhappy sequence of results against not just Portugal, who had previously bettered them at the 1996 and 2000 finals, but also teams coached by Scolari – his Brazil beat them twice at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It made Wednesday's Group A meeting with Switzerland a virtual eliminator.

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Portugal entered the tournament seeking to continue their upward trajectory in European finals: quarter-finals in 1996, semi-finals in 2000 and runners-up in 2004. They made the early running, with José Bosingwa hitting the outside of the post with a low cross inside two minutes.

After 42 goals this season for Manchester United FC, Cristiano Ronaldo found himself crowded by white shirts in the initial stages but his threat was evident from the game's first corner, delivered by Simão. Ronaldo appeared poised to strike only for Servet Çetin to produce a timely block. Portugal did get the ball in the net from another Simão corner in the 17th minute but Pepe's header was ruled out for offside.

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At the other end, Nihat Kahveci saw a free-kick in a promising position trickle behind off the Portugal wall. Nihat was one of only two survivors from Turkey's 2002 World Cup team in the starting lineup alongside Emre Belözoğlu, and he and his fellow forwards – Kazım Kazım and Mevlüt Erdinç, both playing their first competitive internationals – had scant opportunities in a first period controlled by Portugal.

With the half-hour approaching, Simão curled a free-kick narrowly over and moments later there was a collective drawing of breath as Ronaldo cut inside to escape the shackles of Hakan Balta and proceeded to weave his way between three white shirts. If the finish was lacking, Ronaldo then drew a fine save from Volkan Demirel with a low free-kick driven in from the left. Although the ball bounced in front of Volkan, he managed to get a fingertip to it and touch it on to the far post.

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With João Moutinho also going close, Turkey coach Fatih Terim sought to tighten up his midfield for the second half, sending on Sabri Şarıoğlu. Yet Turkey were soon on the back foot once more. Simão dispossessed the dawdling Gökhan Zan and Nuno Gomes nipped in to fire the loose ball against the inside of the upright. After Gökhan, injured in that incident, limped off to be replaced by Emre Aşık, Portugal came again, Ronaldo shooting low at Volkan.

The breakthrough finally came after 61 minutes. Pepe, carrying the ball forward with an assuredness not usually associated with centre-halves, played a one-two on the edge of the box with Nuno Gomes and burst through to finish past Volkan for his first international goal. Nuno Gomes's header rebound off the crossbar soon after and Turkey's hopes of snatching a late equaliser vanished with Tuncay's air shot. Meireles, also with a maiden Portugal goal, doubled the lead in added time, sliding the ball into an empty net after Moutinho's trickery had taken out Volkan.

EURO 2008: Team of the Tournament


Turkey huddle before kick-off in Geneva
Turkey huddle before kick-off in GenevaAFP via Getty Images

Portugal: Ricardo; Paulo Ferreira, Carvalho, Pepe, Bosingwa; Simão (Raul Meireles 83), Moutinho, Deco (Fernando Meira 90+2), Petit, Ronaldo; Nuno Gomes (c) (Nani 69)
Substitutes: Rui Patrício, Bruno Alves, Hugo Almeida, Miguel, Quaresma, Miguel Veloso, Hélder Postiga
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari

Turkey: Volkan; Hakan Balta, Gökhan (Emre Aşık 55), Servet, Hamit Altıntop (Semih 76); Mehmet Aurélio, Tuncay, Emre Belözoğlu (c), Mevlüt (Sabri 46), Kazım-Richards; Nihat
: Rüştü, Tolga, Mehmet Topal, Gökdeniz, Tümer, Emre Güngör, Arda, Uğur, Ayhan
: Fatih Terim

Referee: Herbert Fandel (Germany)

Man of the Match: Pepe (Portugal)