Portugal enter Euro 2008 quarter-finals (Roundup)

June 12th, 2008 - 8:57 am ICT by IANS  

Basel (Switzerland), June 12 (DPA) Portugal Wednesday became the first country to qualify for the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 after they beat the Czech Republic 3-1 in Geneva and Turkey beat co-hosts Switzerland 2-1 in their Group A game played here. Wednesday’s results see Portugal finishing top of the group, while the Czechs and Turkey will play for the right to join them in the second round Sunday in Geneva. Switzerland is the first team to be knocked out.

As Turkey and the Czechs have the same goal difference of two scored and three conceded, the match between them would go straight to a penalty shoot-out if the game ended in a draw after 90 minutes.

In Basel a torrential downpour during the game made the pitch practically unplayable, but Murat Yakin gave the home side the lead in the 32nd minute. Substitute Semih Semturk, who came on at half- time, equalized in the 57th minute.

Arda’s goal three minutes into injury time killed off any hopes the hosts still had of advancing and kept alive Turkish hopes of qualifying for the next round.

In Geneva 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 defeat leaves the Czechs, whose last loss against Portugal dates back to 1984, 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.”

Meanwhile, not surprisingly, Spain’s impressive performance against Russia has not gone unnoticed and players from the Brazilian national side, which is preparing for World Cup qualifiers, consider them as favourites.

Real Madrid’s Robinho said Wednesday that Spain alongside Germany, Portugal, Italy and France is his favourite.

“Spain has strength and quality. They have everything to do well. But it is difficult to make predictions. Italy and France had bad debuts, but they have teams to make it to the final. Germany always does well. Portugal has a very good team and an excellent coach (Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari),” Robinho noted.

Russian coach Guus Hiddink, whose side was humbled 4-1 by the Spanish, Wednesday called on his players to be a bit more clever against Greece in their next Group D game.

“I told the boys that 4-1 was a big score but that we now have to learn within a few hours how to be more crafty,” said the Dutchman.

Also Wednesday Euro organizers said they were very happy with the way things have been going at the tournament and especially with the high television viewing figures that the tournament has achieved to date.

“The tournament has gone very well so far. There has only only been the odd small hitch here and there,” tournament director Christian Mutschler said in Basel.

Polish coach Leo Beenhakker said that he had turned down an offer of an extra 400,000 dollars bonus for himself and his players.

Polish football officials met with Beenhakker after Sunday’s match with Germany but the Dutchman didn’t feel the Poles needed extra motivation.

“We have already closed financial talks,” Beenhakker said. “Those (previous) decisions are satisfactory and final for my players and I.”

The Swiss city of Berne was preparing to create a third fan zone ready to welcome a further wave of Dutch supporters the Mayor said Wednesday.

The authorities expect more than 100,000 fans for the match against France Friday and took the decision after talking to supporters clubs, mayor Alexander Tschappat said.

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