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Nani raises Portugal's game

Nani ensured Paulo Bento got off to a winning start as Portugal coach with a pair of goals in a 3-1 win over Denmark before warning his group H rivals: "We have a very strong team."

Nani raises Portugal's game
Nani raises Portugal's game ©UEFA.com

Goalscorer Nani hailed the dawn of a new era for his Portugal side after they kicked their UEFA EURO 2012 qualification campaign into gear under new coach Paulo Bento with a 3-1 win over Denmark at the Estádio do Dragão.

On a day of torrential rain in Porto, the Manchester United FC winger started his own deluge on the half-hour mark, scoring twice in two minutes to set the Quinas en route to their first win in their third Group H fixture.

"It was a happy game for me and for all my team-mates," Nani told UEFA.com. "We have to congratulate ourselves – we managed to score some goals, but the most important thing was to get the three points, and we succeeded in doing that."

Denmark threatened to come back into the match when Ricardo Carvalho put through his own net 11 minutes from time, but captain Cristiano Ronaldo made the game safe from Nani's pass with five minutes to play – not that the provider of that goal was ever worried, however. "No, we were better than our opponents from the first minute and we didn't give them many chances to threaten our goal," Nani said. "When they scored it was an own goal. We knew we could go on and score the third goal, and that's what happened."

The 23-year-old believes the arrival of Bento as coach, and the presence of a handful of new faces in the squad such as debutant right-back João Pereira, will give Portugal the impetus they need to recover from recent difficulties. "We know we have a very strong team and as we play the players are getting to know each other better. I think each one is getting used to this and we're going to continue winning games."

Pereira concurred, saying Bento's straightforward approach had helped his new charges focus. "Training has been positive," he said, "and he has made it clear in our heads that we have to win the games that are left. It was an important victory in a difficult game. We knew we couldn't afford to draw."

The Sporting Clube de Portugal defender warned there could be no let-up for his side as they seek to make up for a slow start. "Fortunately things went well [tonight], but only winning in Iceland [on Tuesday] will make this a significant victory," he said.

Portugal trail leaders Norway by five points, with Denmark one behind the Iberian side in third. In the Danish camp, Dennis Rommedahl lamented individual errors he believed cost the visiting side the game. "The most disappointing thing is they scored from our mistakes," he said. "We have to move on now and forget about it, and luckily for us there's a match on Tuesday."

Rommedahl praised the home side and believes they are still the team to beat in Group H, despite Norway's 100% record. "We knew anything we could get down here was extra," said the Olympiacos FC winger. "In my eyes, Portugal are still the best team in the group, and now we have our home game against Cyprus and we have to win."