Sunday, June 8, 2008

Group A: Portugal vs Turkey

Here is the Highlights of the Match:

Portugal's Euro 2008 campaign opened in impressive fashion with victory over Turkey in Geneva.

Pepe opened the scoring after 61 minutes, surging from defence to beat Turkey keeper Volkan Demirel after a slick exchange with Nuno Gomes.

Portugal deserved their win, with Cristiano Ronaldo hitting the post from a first-half free-kick and Gomes twice denied by the woodwork after the break.

And Raul Meireles slid home the second in injury time after a flowing move.

Portugal were runners-up in their own country to Greece four years ago, but this vibrant performance was a clear statement that they intend to go one better this time around.

Turkey, with former Sheffield United midfield man Colin Kazim-Richards prominent, were always in the game but lacked a crucial cutting edge.

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and Ronaldo were finally able to put the speculation that has provided the backdrop to their Euro 2008 build-up behind them and get on with the action.

Scolari continues to be linked with the vacancy at Chelsea, despite his insistence that he will not discuss his long-term future until after the tournament.

And Ronaldo's Manchester United future continues to be the subject of daily debate as Real Madrid maintain their pursuit of the man who played a pivotal role in the Premier League and Champions League to Old Trafford.

Portugal dominated a lively opening 45 minutes in which they were unlucky not to take the lead.

They thought they had taken the lead in the 16th minute when Pepe powered a header past Turkey keeper Volkan Demirel from Simao Sabrosa's cross, but the celebrations were cut short by a linesman's flag.

Portugal's Paulo Ferreira was happy with his side's perseverance

Ronaldo had been quiet in the early stages, but he burst into life on the half-hour with a trademark run that ended with a shot that was pulled disappointingly wide.

He came within inches of giving Portugal the lead eight minutes before the interval, but a dipping 25-yard free-kick from an angle was brilliantly turned on to the post by Volkan.

The woodwork denied Portugal again four minutes after the break when referee Herbert Fandel played an excellent advantage when Gokhan Zan flattened Simao, but Gomes flicked the loose ball against the post.

Ronaldo then tested the excellent Volkan again with a precise low finish after escaping the attentions of Hamit Altintop, but the Turkey keeper was once more equal to the task.

Turkey had shown great resilience, but they were broken after 61 minutes thanks to a moment of real adventure from central defender Pepe.

He surged forward and played a slick exchange with Gomes before sliding a finish past the onrushing Volkan from 12 yards.

Portugal had played some wonderful flowing football - but fortune was against them again as they almost doubled their lead three minutes after Pepe's strike.

Ronaldo curved in an inviting cross from the left, and Gomes rose only to see his header bounce off the bar to safety.

It was his final contribution of the game as he was quickly replaced by the more youthful figure of Manchester United winger Nani.

Turkey had battled manfully, but they had shown little as an attacking force, although Portugal keeper Ricardo had to be alert to come off his line and deny Middlesbrough's Tuncay as he tried to get in on the end of Nihat Kahveci's cross.

Substitute Emre Asik wasted Turkey's best chance with nine minutes left, heading Nihat's corner wide when unmarked only eight yards out.

And as Turkey pushed forward, Portugal broke to add a second in the dying seconds as Ronaldo found Joao Moutinho, who set up substitute Meireles for a side-footed finish.

Portugal: Ricardo, Bosingwa, Pepe, Carvalho, Ferreira, Petit, Joao Moutinho, Ronaldo, Deco (Fernando Meira 90), Simao (Raul Meireles 82), Nuno Gomes (Nani 68).
Subs Not Used: Rui Patricio, Bruno Alves, Hugo Almeida, Miguel, Jorge Ribeiro, Quaresma, Veloso, Postiga.

Goals: Pepe 61, Raul Meireles 90.

Turkey: Demirel, Altintop (Senturk 76), Cetin, Zan (Asik 55), Balta, Kazim-Richards, Emre, Aurelio, Erding (Sarioglu 46), Sanli, Nihat.
Subs Not Used: Rustu, Zengin, Topal, Karadeniz, Metin, Gungor, Turan, Boral, Akman.

Booked: Kazim-Richards, Zan, Sarioglu.

Att: 31,000

Ref: Herbert Fandel (Germany).

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