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Newz Forum: SOCCER: The European Championships begin

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posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 10:51 AM
The big kick-off is under way with Luis Figo and his Portugal team-mates getting things under way on home turf against Greece in Group A. The gates of the perimeter area around Estadio do Dragao opened at 1415 BST and eager fans started flooding in for the opening game of Euro 2004.

Supporters had been milling around outside since noon, soaking up the sun and absorbing the atmosphere. The green, red and yellow colours of the Portuguese flag are everywhere. It is a real family occasion, with generations of the same family arriving together. The atmosphere is friendly and enthusiastic, but tinged with nervous expectancy. Most home fans seem convinced their team will not only beat Greece but make a real impression, perhaps even go on to win the tournament.

A short opening ceremony will precede the 1700 kick-off.

Pre-match: Portugal adopt their favourite 4-2-3-1 system with the only slight surprise the inclusion of Maniche instead of Petit as one of his two defensive midfielders alongside Costinha. Pedro Pauleta is the sole frontman with three attacking midfielders, Luis Figo, Simao Sabrosa and Rui Costa getting the vote over Champions League winner Deco. Greece name Zisis Vryzas and Angelos Charisteas as his starting pair up front and Demis Nikolaidis is left on the bench. Traianos Dellas makes the line up despite a hip injury but another injury victim Vasilios Lakis is only fit enough for the bench.

Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Andrade, Fernando Couto, Rui Jorge, Costinha, Maniche, Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Pauleta, Simao Sabrosa.

Greece: Antonis Nikopolidis, Takis Fyssas, Traianos Dellas, Angelo Basinas, Yourkas Seitaridis, Giorgos Karagounis, Theodoros Zagorakis, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Mihails Kapsis, Angelos Haristeas, Zisis Vryzas.

Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy)

[Edited on 12/6/04 by TRD]


posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 11:05 AM
The match has been quite good so far and Greece open the scoring in the tournament. Paulo Ferreira fails to find Maniche with a short pass and Karagounis picks it up, darts forward and drills a superb low shot from 25 yards past the despairing dive of Ricardo.

A bit of a shock start!


posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 11:54 AM
Half time in the opening match and this long-range shot from Georgios Karagounis produced the opening goal of the tournament and has put unfancied Greece 1-0 up on hosts Portugal at the Estadio do Dragao.

Brief Highlights

With less than a minute on the clock there was a scare for the hosts when Vryzas fired in a dangerous ball from the left but Charisteas could not reach it. There were more jitters when Georgios Seitaridis tried a long throw and with Ricardo stranded Jorge Andrade just managed to clear the danger.

But with six minutes on the clock Greece took the lead. Georgios Karagounis picked up the ball and advanced with the Portuguese defence standing off him and fired with his right foot from just outside the box inside Ricardo's near post.

That finally spurred Portugal into life and Greece goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis fumbled under pressure from Pauleta before Angelis Basinas cleared. Portugal looked rattled and than another defensive lapse - hesitation between Andrade and Costinha - let in Charisteas who should have hit the target but fired wide.

A sweeping move from Greece saw Vryzas cross to Panagiotis Fyssas whose volley missed the target. Finally Portugal put together a good move with Andrade firing from outside the box just wide of the post.

[Edited on 12/6/04 by TRD]


posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 12:08 PM
Match update...

51 min: The Greeks have a penalty after Seitaridis is clipped from behind by Cristiano Ronaldo. GOAL BASSINAS. The ultra-cool Bassinas sends the keeper the wrong way and ther Greeks have a two-goal lead.

Portugal have it all to do now!


posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 12:53 PM
Portugal play much better and on 90 min Ronaldo rises unmarked to head a consolation for the home side to make it 2-1.

It looks over and the hosts look to be beaten in the first game.


posted on Jun, 12 2004 @ 01:00 PM

Hosts Portugal made a nightmare start to their Euro 2004 campaign, suffering a shock defeat to unfancied Greece. Porto's Estadio do Dragao was packed with thousands of expectant Portuguese fans for the opening game, but their team appeared hamstrung by nerves.

Georgios Karagounis pounced on a mistake by Paulo Ferreira to open the scoring after only six minutes. Angelos Basinas' penalty made it 2-0 just after half-time, before Cristiano Ronaldo's injury-time consolation.

Having qualified for the tournament as hosts, Portugal were playing their first competitive match since losing to South Korea in the World Cup group stages two years ago. That, as well as the pressure of a nation's hopes, clearly showed as Portugal struggled initially.

Greece carved out the first clearcut chance after just a minute, Angelos Haristeas failing to reach a Zisis Vryzas cross from eight yards. And only six minutes later, the home fans were stunned when Greece opened the scoring. Chelsea transfer target Ferreira gave the ball away to Karagounis who was allowed a free run on goal before he despatched a sweet strike into the bottom left-hand corner.

7 mins: Karagounis fires Greece into a shock lead
26 mins: Rui Costa misses a free header for Portugal
51 mins: Greece double their lead through Basinas' penalty
93 mins: Ronaldo fires home a late consolation

With Vyrsas causing panic in the Portugal's defence, and the hosts' keeper Ricardo looking decidedly jittery, Greece might have extended their lead. Haristeas sliced his shot after being put through by another defensive mistake by Portugal, and Panagiotis Fyssas saw his volley fly well over the bar. After quarter of an hour, Portugal finally began to find their feet.

And on 26 minutes, Rui Costa should have been celebrating the equaliser but after Ferreira found him unmarked in the box, the AC Milan midfielder could only direct his header tamely wide. Portugal continued to have more of the ball but were let down by a lack of urgency in the final third of the pitch.

But just after half an hour, Greek keeper Antonios Nikopolidis bravely dived at Sabrosa Simao's feet as the midfielder looked to apply the finishing touch after turning his marker. Portugal boss Luis Felipe Scolari responded to a lacklustre first half by replacing Simao and the ineffectual Rui Costa with Deco and Ronaldo.

But matters only got worse for the hosts.

Ronaldo made a clumsy challenge on Seitaridis and Basinas confidently stroked the resulting penalty into the top right-hand corner. Even two goals behind, Portugal's lone striker Pauleta remained isolated up front and Greece's defence had a relatively easy task.

With 12 minutes remaining, Deco might have put Greece under pressure but after shaking off his marker, he sent a powerful strike high and wide. Ronaldo converted a Figo cross in injury-time but it was too late to save his side and Portugal left the pitch with their championship hopes in the balance after only one game.

BBC Sport

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