Belgium win Portuguese plaudits

Portugal's José Couceiro says Belgium can become champions after the teams draw as opposite number Jean-François De Sart admits his players "were great".

Sunday night's 0-0 draw in Groningen has left Group A rivals Portugal and Belgium on a point apiece after day one of this UEFA European Championship. However, that is where the similarities end. While Belgium coach Jean-François De Sart had to play down talk of his team becoming tournament favourites on the back of this performance, Portugal's José Couceiro called for a reality check of an altogether different kind at his post-match press conference.

José Couceiro, Portugal coach
We started well and we had the first two scoring chances. We were controlling the game and getting at them. But in the first half there were spells when we didn't have the same control because there was too much space between the three lines in our team. We tried to improve our play in the second half and ended up on the front foot a bit more. We were better balanced with Miguel Veloso and Manuel Fernandes together in central midfield. We did improve. It is not the ideal result – that would have been a win. But we stopped them winning and we defended our goal. We are a good team but so are Belgium. If you criticise us for not winning, then you are saying that Belgium are a small team. Belgium, in fact, are capable of becoming European champions. Tonight, they had more chances than us. They were better than us in the final third, so we can't assume that we are entitled to win. I just want the team to play to its maximum and hopefully the results will come. This point may yet be important.

Jean-François De Sart, Belgium coach
I am very proud of my players' performance. Some of the older lads play at a high level and it showed. We had more chances but I can't complain. We only had two full training sessions before the game in which to observe the players together, but I know that if they are well prepared they can reach a high level, which they did in the first half. We only lacked a goal, otherwise we were perfect. I am not surprised by how well we played. It is too soon to suddenly say we are favourites or anything. First we have to get through this group, we have to continue to play well, and the difficult thing for us will be to repeat this level on Wednesday and Saturday. We gave two hundred per cent out there. We looked a good team, but we now have to build on this. We know that if we get through the group, we qualify for the Olympics, yet we are primarily concerned with the European Championship. The goal was for the players to show their qualities, which they did, but as a coach we are also here to win and that was disappointing. But I am very proud of the players. They were great today.

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