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  Results & Reviews: Match 29


Dutch go down
Host Portugal wins 2-1 to make Euro 2004 final

Luis Figo produced the performance his country was waiting for as Portugal advanced to the final of a major soccer championship for the first time by beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the semifinal of Euro 2004 on Wednesday.

With Figo repeatedly pulling the Dutch defense apart, Portugal had enough chances to win by three or four goals before wildly cheering home fans at Jose Alvalade stadium. The Real Madrid star hadn't been at his best until this game, but showed why he's one of the most exciting players in soccer.

"I'd trade everything I've ever won for this one moment," Figo said.

"The support we've been getting, just thinking about it gives me goose bumps."

Cristiano Ronaldo headed home a corner in the 26th
« Summary »

Semi-Final 30 June 2004 1945 CET

José Alvalde, Lisbon Attendance 46,679


Ronaldo 26
Maniche 58

Jorge Andrade 63 og
Portugal (4-5-1) Ricardo; Miguel, Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Andrade, Nuno Valente; Costinha, Maniche (Couto 87), Deco, Figo, Ronaldo (Petit 68); Pauleta (Nuno Gomes 75).
Netherlands (4-3-3) van der Sar; Reiziger, Bouma (van der Vaart 56), Stam, van Bronckhorst; Seedorf, Davids, Cocu; Overmars (Makaay 46), van Nistelrooy, Robben (van Hooijdonk 81).
Referee Anders Frisk (SWE)

minute and Nuno Maniche drove a stunning 22-meter strike high into the corner to the left of Edwin van der Sar in the 58th to put the host two goals ahead before a Jorge Andrade own-goal gave the Dutch some hope.

The Portuguese, who lost 2-1 to underdog Greece in the opening game, finally made it to a championship game after semifinal exits at the 1966 World Cup and the 1984 and 2000 Euros. On July 4, they will face the winner of Thursday's other semifinal between the Czech Republic and Greece.

"It's a historic moment for the country. The whole team is happy right now. It's difficult to describe the emotions," Figo said.

The result comes a month after FC Porto won the top prize in European club soccer, the Champions League, and also means that Scolari has the chance to become the first coach to lead two different teams to both the World Cup and European title. Two years ago, he guided his Brazilian countrymen to their fifth World Cup triumph.

"My team was very competitive, we deserved to win," said Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who also announced he was staying on in the job for two more years until 2006. "The fans were fantastic."

The Dutch, who won the Euro title in 1988, lost in the semifinal for the second time in a row, having been beaten by Italy four years ago in Rotterdam.

"The Portuguese have a lot of talented players in the team. It was quite simple. They were the better team tonight," said Dutch coach Dick Advocaat.

Before 46,679 fans at Sporting Lisbon's Jose Alvalade Stadium, Portugal regularly opened up a Dutch defense missing injured veteran Frank de Boer and could have gone into half time two or three goals ahead.

In the ninth minute Luis Figo, who was the main source of the best Portuguese moves and was named man of the match, broke down the right and sent over a low cross but Ronaldo, sliding in just three meters from the goalline, was unable to get his foot to the ball.

But the Portuguese were soon ahead, this time from a corner.

Ronaldo won it on the left, Deco delivered the cross and the teenager was perfectly positioned and unmarked to head home from close range. Ronaldo pulled off his shirt in celebration and was shown a yellow card by Swedish referee Anders Frisk.

The Dutch had a chance to level within a minute but the unmarked Marc Overmars, recalled for his first start of the championship, fired over the bar with an angled 10 meter strike after Edgar Davids' left wing cross had been flicked on.

The Portuguese should have gone two ahead when Deco sent Maniche clear down the right and his low cross found Pauleta in front of goal. The Paris Saint Germain striker, recalled instead of the injured Nuno Gomes, had left his marker and got in a firm close range shot but it was too close to Van der Sar who pushed it round the post.

The Dutch had the ball in the net in the 38th minute but it was ruled offside and Overmars was shown a yellow card for arguing with the linesman.

Five minutes before halftime, Figo again went close when he cut in from the right and fired a leftfooted shot that beat Van der Sar but hit the far post.

Dutch coach Dick Advocaat sent on Bayern Munich striker Roy Makaay for Overmars to give striker Ruud van Nistelrooy more support in the middle.

But Portugal still created better chances and, from another quick break from their own half after Jaap Stam's header had gone straight to Deco, the ball was moved swiftly upfield to Figo. This time the Portuguese captain mis-hit the shot wide.

Advocaat made another change on 55 minutes, taking off defender Wilfred Bouma and sending on attacking midfielder Rafael van der Vaart.

But a second Portuguese goal came within three minutes when Stam's headed clearance at the near post gave the home team a corner. Maniche collected the short corner and unleashed an angled 22-meter shot that flew past Van der Sar and went in off the far post.

The Portuguese fans were still celebrating when their team conceded an own goal in the 63rd minute

There seemed no real danger when Giovanni Van Bronckhorst sent a cross to the box from the left, but Andrade stretched his leg trying to clear it and the ball bounced off his leg and past goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira.

It could have been worse for the home team a minute later when Phillip Cocu and Van Bronckhorst just failed to make contact with a Clarence Seedorf free kick.

Deco should have made it 3-1 in the final minute of injury time when he collected a crossfield ball from Figo but shot straight at van der Sar.
- AP



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 « Match Stats »

2 Goals 1
1 Halftime 0
9 Corners 2
5 Offsides 3
22 Fouls 21
3 Yellow cards 2
0 Red cards 0
24 Free kicks 27
12 Shots on target 2
2 Shots off target 6
1 Woodwork 0
1 Saves 5
0 GL Clearances 0
46% Possession 54%



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