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Portugal down Holland to reach final
July 01, 2004 02:10 IST
Last Updated: July 01, 2004 03:22 IST
Hosts Portugal roared into their first major final as goals from midfielders Cristiano Ronaldo and Maniche sealed a deserved 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in the first Euro 2004 semi-final on Wednesday.
Inspired by their captain Luis Figo, Portugal took the lead when Ronaldo headed home after 26 minutes and Maniche blasted in a stunning 58th-minute second to send the nation wild at the prospect of a final against the Czech Republic or Greece.
"It's difficult to explain in one word the emotion I feel right now," Figo told reporters. "We've suffered a lot to reach the final in our own country. We cannot wish for anything more than this."
The disappointing Dutch were given brief hope by Jorge Andrade's 63rd-minute own goal but were outclassed by the hosts and have now lost four of their five European Championship semi-finals.
Portugal, defeated in the 1984 and 2000 European Championship semis and in the last four at the 1966 World Cup, face the Czechs or Greeks on Sunday in Lisbon.
The victory continued Portugal's remarkable recovery from their defeat by Greece in the tournament's opening match and they can now emulate the Netherlands in 1988 by winning the title after losing their first game.
Both sides had come into Wednesday's game via penalty shootout wins in their quarter-finals and another looked a possibility after a nervous first 20 minutes failed to produce a worthwhile chance.
Portugal, though, began to exert pressure, with captain Figo in sharp form on the wing in his 109th international, which briefly gave him a share of Fernando Couto's Portuguese record.
Dutch defender Wilfred Bouma made a desperate tackle to deny recalled striker Pauleta in the 25th minute but from Deco's resulting corner Ronaldo was left unmarked to power a close-range header past a rooted Edwin van der Sar.
Referee Anders Frisk booked Ronaldo for taking off his shirt to celebrate the goal but he avoided further misdemeanours and is free to play on Sunday.
Striker Pauleta, who missed the quarter-final win over England through suspension, should have buried a Maniche cross after 35 minutes following a great build-up but shot straight at Van der Sar, while Figo hit the post with a superb curling effort four minutes before the break.
The Dutch were poor in the first half, Marc Overmars blasting a volley over the bar with their best chance and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy having a close-range shot ruled out for offside.
Dutch coach Dick Advocaat threw on striker Roy Makaay for the second half in place of Overmars and attacking midfielder Rafael van der Vaart for Bouma in an effort to boost his attack.
It was Portugal who should have scored again, however, when Pauleta shot straight at Van der Sar when clean through.
Maniche showed the centre forward how to finish soon after though when he sent a wonderful 20-metre shot arcing beyond Van der Sar from outside the left corner of the penalty area following a short corner.
The Netherlands got back into the game five minutes later when centre back Andrade, trying to cut out a from Giovanni van Bronckhorst cross aimed at Van Nistelrooy, succeeded only in looping the ball over Ricardo and into his own net.
As the Dutch threw more men forward gaps opened at the back and Deco both missed a great chance to settle the match in stoppage time.
The hosts had gone out at the semi-final stage in the last four European Championships but the whistle sounded to end that run, sparking delirious scenes of celebration on the pitch and setting off another sleepless night for the residents of Lisbon.
Portugal (4-5-1): 1-Ricardo; 13-Miguel, 16-Ricardo Carvalho, 4-Jorge Andrade, 14-Nuno Valente; 6-Costinha, 18-Maniche (5-Fernando Couto 87), 20-Deco, 7-Luis Figo, 17-Cristiano Ronaldo (8-Armando Petit 68); 9-Pauleta (21-Nuno Gomes 75)
Netherlands (4-3-3): 1-Edwin van der Sar; 2-Michael Reiziger, 4-Wilfred Bouma (11-Rafael van der Vaart 56), 3-Jaap Stam, 5-Giovanni van Bronckhorst; 20-Clarence Seedorf, 8-Edgar Davids, 6-Philip Cocu; 16-Marc Overmars (12-Roy Makaay 46), 10-Ruud van Nistelrooy, 19-Arjen Robben (17-Pierre van Hooijdonk 81)
Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)
Linesmen: Kenneth Petersson (Sweden), Peter Ekstrom (Sweden)