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Portugal leave it late to see off Romania in EURO 2000 Group A

Romania 0-1 Portugal
Substitute Costinha's 94th-minute header secured Portugal's passage to the quarter-finals.

Costinha wheels away after his late winner
Costinha wheels away after his late winner ©Getty Images

Substitute Costinha scored in the last minute of added time in Arnhem to secure Portugal's passage to the UEFA EURO 2000 quarter-finals with a game to spare.

In the dying embers of a fractious game, the midfielder rose to meet Luís Figo's free-kick, flicking a header past Bogdan Stelea in the Romania goal. There was little evidence of the dazzling style that had accounted for England in Portugal's opening game, but two wins from as many outings assures them of a top-two place in Group A; Romania's hopes hang by a thread.

EURO 2000: All you need to know

There was a special award before the start of the match for Gheorghe Popescu in recognition of his 100th cap, but Romania received little else in the opening minutes as Portugal kept the ball with an easy assurance. Rui Costa and Luís Figo were in the thick of it, and the latter almost fashioned an opener for Nuno Gomes when Cristian Chivu lost possession just outside his area; the striker dragged his shot wide.

Highlights: Best goals of EURO 2000
Highlights: Best goals of EURO 2000

Romania's promise to shadow the experienced wingers every step of the way looked ill-founded, yet Chivu brought some encouragement at the other end when he made ground down the left and crossed dangerously. Vítor Baía bravely intervened, and he had to be alert to push away Adrian Ilie's swerving free-kick at the expense of a corner.

The game briefly sparked before half-time as Figo swung a free-kick towards Fernando Couto, who should have made more of his header. At the other end Gheorghe Hagi was not far wide with a shot from distance and, after the restart, Viorel Moldovan was unfortunate to see his header divert off a defender. Then momentum was lost, the game played at a walk.

Portugal showed willing, and coach Humberto Coelho brought on Sérgio Conceição and Sá Pinto in an attempt to inject some pace into proceedings. Romania responded by tightening things up, and may even have grabbed a winner when Hagi, found by Dan Petrescu's chip to the far post, screwed his volley wide.

With an earlier booking – his second of the tournament – having ruled Hagi out of Romania's next game against England, the playmaker looked determined to make an impression here, and his long-range effort forced Vítor Baía to tip over. Both teams looked to have settled for a point, however, when Costinha popped up to grab all three for Portugal.

EURO 2000: Team of the Tournament


Lineups

Carlos Secretário vies with Cristian Chivu
Carlos Secretário vies with Cristian ChivuGetty Images

Romania: Stelea; Contra, Filipescu, Popescu, Chivu; Gâlcă, Petrescu (Petre 64), Munteanu, Hagi (c); Moldovan (Ganea 69), Ilie (Roşu 78)
Substitutes: Lobont, Prunea, Lincar, Hildan, Belodedici, Ciobotariu, Lupescu, Mutu
Coach: Emerich Jenei

Portugal: Vítor Baía (c); Secretário, Jorge Costa, Fernando Couto, Dimas; Paulo Bento, Vidigal, Rui Costa (Costinha 87), Luís Figo; Nuno Gomes (Sá Pinto 56), João Pinto (Sérgio Conceição 56)
Substitutes: Quim, Pedro Espinha, Rui Jorge, Paulo Sousa, Abel Xavier, Beto, Capucho, Pauleta
Coach: Humberto Coelho

Referee: Gilles Veissière (France)

Man of the Match: Fernando Couto (Portugal)