Portugal beat Czech Republic 3-1 in Euro 2008 match (Lead)

June 12th, 2008 - 9:01 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, June 12 (DPA) Portugal have all but qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2008 Euro after beating the Czech Republic 3-1 in a Group A game played in Geneva Wednesday. Goals by Deco (8th), Cristiano Ronaldo (63rd) and substitute Ricardo Quaresma in second half injury time gave the Portuguese the all-important victory. Libor Sionko scored for the Czechs in the 18th minute.

The victory for the Portuguese, who were beaten by the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals of the 1996 Euro finals, should see them top the group.

Fernando Meira said that the team were looking for first place in the group. “We certainly want to top the group. We played against a very good side and fully deserve the six points we now have.”

The Czechs, whose last defeat against Portugal dates back to 1984, leaves them with a mountain to climb if they want to go through to the knock-out stages.

Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi said that he remained confident that they would advance. “We have enough strength to know that we can still do it in our final game.”

Czech coach Karel Bruckner started the game with Euro 2004 top scorer Milan Baros upfront in place of Jan Koller, who disappointed in his side’s first game against the Swiss.

But it was Portugal who did most of the early play and deservedly took the lead early on after Ronaldo played a one-two and attempted to take the ball around goalkeeper Peter Cech.

The Chelsea guardian managed to block Ronaldo’s attempt but the ball took a wicked bounce to the feet of Brazilian-born Deco, who bundled the ball through two Czech players standing on the line.

A corner in the 18th minute gifted the Czechs an equalizer as Portuguese defender Petit took his eyes of Sionko and he rose above the defender to head home, giving Ricardo no chance.

Manchester United’s Ronaldo got his first Euro goal on the hour as he was brilliantly set up by Deco on the edge of his area and Ronaldo’s shot from outside 18 metres hit the roof of the net.

Sionko had an opportunity to grab another equalizer late in the game, but Ricardo did well to keep his powerful header out by tipping it over the bar.

Instead, it was Portugal who added a third in second half injury time, as Ronaldo unselfishly fed the ball to an unmarked Quaresma who had a simple task of tapping the ball into the empty net.

Portugal will definitely qualify for the quarterfinals if the later group game in Basle between Turkey and the co-hosts Switzerland ends in a draw or if Turkey wins.

If Switzerland wins, Portugal could, theoretically, still go out, but would need to lose to the Swiss in their final game and other results would need to go against them.

The Czechs will need to avoid defeat in their final game against Turkey to stand a chance of going through.

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