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Portugal, Czech Republic win opening games at Euro 2008

Portugal, Czech Republic win opening games at Euro 2008

Group A favorites Portugal and the Czech Republic recorded wins Saturday on the opening day of the European Championship, putting both teams on the way to the quarterfinals.
Portugal had a goal from Pepe disallowed for offside in the first half, but the defender put in another in the second half to help the 2006 World Cup semifinalists to a 2-0 win over Turkey in Geneva. Raul Meireles added the second goal in injury time.
The Czechs spoiled co-host Switzerland's party with a 1-0 win in Basel when Vaclav Sverkos scored his first international goal in the 71st minute in only his third appearance. Sverkos ran onto Tomas Galasek's header after beating the offside trap and finished to the left of goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.
"It was the best moment of my football career," Sverkos said. "I'd be happy to score more goals."
Worse for Switzerland, the team lost influential captain and record scorer Alexander Frei. The 28-year-old striker injured his right knee in a collision with Czech defender Zdenek Grygera and was taken off the field in tears shortly before halftime. He returned to the bench on crutches.
"It's a disaster, of course, to lose our captain in the first game the way we did," Switzerland coach Koebi Kuhn said.
On Sunday, Germany plays Poland in Klagenfurt, while co-host Austria faces Croatia in Vienna.
Portugal opened Euro 2004 with a disappointing loss to Greece, the same team it lost to in the final. But this time, the Brazil-born Pepe scored from inside the area after a one-two with striker Nuno Gomes to put the team ahead for good. Playing in his first major competition for Portugal, Pepe beat defender Emre Asik to the ball and sent a right-footed shot into the net.
"Today we stress it was the team spirit that prevailed," Pepe said. "We deserve to be congratulated for our great display."
Despite not playing his best, Cristiano Ronaldo had some of the match's most dangerous chances but failed to capitalize on them. His long-range free kick from the left was barely tipped away by Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel and hit the far post in the 38th, and Demirel again had to stop his dangerous close-range shot in the 56th.
"We are on the right path. We won," Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "We are at 50 percent of where we need to be."
In Basel, Switzerland missed a chance to equalize in the 80th when Tranquillo Barnetta's low shot was stopped by goalkeeper Petr Cech after Tomas Ujfalusi appeared to handle the ball in the area. Johan Vonlanthen got the loose ball but his shot hit the crossbar, and the ball was cleared.
"It was the worst moment for me," Cech said. "The shot was a little bit deflected by (defender) David Rozehnal and I blocked the ball at the very last moment.
"We were a bit lucky."
The Czechs will next face Portugal on Wednesday in Geneva, while Switzerland and Turkey play in Basel.
The opening day of the tournament came with some fan trouble. Police detained several people in Klagenfurt following incidents between groups of fans in southern Austria, and in Switzerland police pulled two local fans out of the crowd at a large-screen public viewing of the team's match against the Czechs.


Updated : 2021-04-13 04:26 GMT+08:00