Euro 2004

Portugal 1 - Spain 0

Spain are out of the European championship! A 1-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Portugal left them in third place in their group, and they will be taking no further part in the tournament. Iñaki Sáez's side needed to draw their last group match to go through, although a narrow defeat would have been enough had Greece lost their game to Russia by a bigger margin. And when news came through that Russia were two up in the first ten minutes there appeared to be no danger of them going out. But they showed little initiative in a dull first half, with only a couple of half chances falling to Fernando Torres, and Portugal could have gone ahead had Ronaldo not steered a header wide just before the break.

With his side needing to win to stay in the competition, Scolari surprised everyone taking off his sole striker Pauleta at the break to bring on Nuno Gomes. But it proved to be a decisive move, the new front man getting what was to be the only goal of the match with just under an hour on the clock after making himself space to shoot low past Casillas. Spain could have equalised soon afterwards, Raúl heading wide and Fernando Torres hitting the post, but Casillas had to be at his best to keep out efforts from Figo and Costinha minutes later. With Greece pulling one back against Russia, Spain had to score. But Sáez dithered with his substitutions, and Portugal could have scored two or three more near the end with their incisive counter-attacks. (20.06.04)

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