Alexa

Portugal beats Turkey 2-0 in their European Championship opener

Portugal beats Turkey 2-0 in their European Championship opener

Pepe and Raul Meireles scored second-half goals Saturday to give Portugal a 2-0 win over Turkey in Group A of the European Championship.
Pepe, a Brazil-born central defender playing in his first major competition for Portugal, scored from inside the area after a one-two with striker Nuno Gomes. Pepe beat defender Emre Asik to the ball and sent a right-footed shot into the net. Meireles added another in injury time after Ronaldo began a late break, then passed to Joao Moutinho, who got the ball back to Meireles for the goal.
"I can hardly describe the emotion I'm feeling," Pepe said. "We played as a real team and that's important. We knew sooner or later we would score a goal. Today, I must stress that it was the team spirit that prevailed. We deserve to be congratulated for our great display."
The victory comes as a boost for Portugal, which is hoping to repeat its successful campaigns at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. The Portuguese lost to Greece in the final four years ago at home, then reached the semifinals of the World Cup in Germany, losing to France.
The result marked a welcome change from the Euro 2004 opener, when the Portuguese lost to Greece 1-0 and were forced to find ways to recover just to advance from the group stage.
Turkey, in its first major competition since reaching the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup, will have to recover to keep alive this year.
Portugal came out pressuring and controlled ball possession from the beginning at the 30,000-capacity Stade de Geneve, creating the most dangerous scoring chances.
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.
"He helped us a lot," Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "We really are satisfied with him."
The Portuguese had the first chance just two minutes into the match. After a through ball from Deco on the right side, Jose Bosingwa mis-hit a cross that nearly went in, hitting the outside of the post.
Ronaldo had his first opportunity in the fifth, striking a shot with his left foot from the top of the area way off target. A couple of minutes later, the star winger nearly deflected a cross into the goal.
The Turks relied mostly on counterattacks and the team's first chance came in the 10th on a dangerous free kick from Nihat Kahveci.
The Turks wanted a hand ball called inside the area in the 12th, when the ball deflected off Pepe in a challenge with Tuncay Sanli.
"It's not easy to play with Portugal," Turkey coach Fatih Terim said. "They have world-known players and they're one of the favorites of the tournament. Despite that we tried to defend and set up attacks."
Pepe had a goal disallowed in the 17th for offside. His header from inside the area found the net but he was in front of the defenders before the cross was made.
Portugal also came close on a set play in the 28th, when Simao Sabrosa's shot sailed just over the crossbar, and a minute later it was Ronaldo on a nice run again, beating a couple of defenders before firing a weak, left-footed shot.
In the second half, Turkey wanted a penalty in the 49th when Kahveci fell inside the area.
The result forces Turkey to be nearly perfect in the next two group matches if it wants to stay alive in the competition in Switzerland and Austria.
It was Portugal's third triumph over Turkey in the European tournament, adding to the 1-0 win in the group stage of Euro 1996 and the 2-0 quarterfinal victory four years later. It has won the teams' last six matches. Turkey's only victory was in a friendly in 1955.
It also was Scolari's third straight win over Turkey. The Brazilian led his native country over the Turks 2-1 in the 2002 World Cup group opener and 1-0 in the tournament's semifinals. Scolari and Brazil eventually won the title that year.
"Turkey played as expected, they are a daring team and they managed to surprise," Scolari said. "For years since I started coaching the Portuguese squad, we finally gave the display I expected. We are on the right path _ we won. But we are at 50 percent of where we need to be."
The Portuguese are playing in the final phase of the European competition for the fifth time. Last year's appearance in the championship match marked its best performance so far.
On Wednesday, Portugal faces the Czech Republic in Geneva and Turkey plays Switzerland in Basel. Portugal will close out the group stage against Switzerland in Basel on June 15 and Turkey against the Czech Republic in Geneva.
The Czechs beat Switzerland 1-0 in the opening match of the tournament.
"It is great for us to have three points, just like the Czechs," Scolari said. "We wanted breathing space and we got that. Now the magical medical staff have to help our players.
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Lineups:
Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Jose Bosingwa, Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Armando Petit, Joao Moutinho, Deco (Fernando Meira, 90), Cristiano Ronaldo, Nuno Gomes (Nani, 69), Simao Sabrosa (Raul Meireles, 82).
Turkey: Volkan Demirel, Servet Cetin, Gokhan Zan (Emre Asik, 55), Hakan Balta, Kazim Kazim, Mevlut Erdinc (Sabri Sarioglu, 46), Emre Belozoglu, Hamit Altintop (Semih Senturk, 76), Mehmet Aurelio, Tuncay Sanli, Nihat Kahveci.