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Portugal relieved with opening win at European Championship

Portugal relieved with opening win at European Championship

Portugal is glad the first match is over.
The Portuguese beat Turkey 2-0 in their first game at the European Championship on Saturday, putting to rest fears of a repeat of the disappointing opening loss against Greece four years ago.
Brazil-born defender Pepe, playing in his first major competition with Portugal, scored the first goal in the 61st minute and substitute Raul Meireles sealed the win in injury time.
Playing in front of its home fans in the Euro 2004 opener, Portugal lost 2-1 to eventual champion Greece and had to beat Russia 2-0 and Spain 1-0 to advance. It eventually made it to the final by eliminating England on penalties in the quarterfinals and the Netherlands 2-1 in the semifinals.
"This first victory was important to give us motivation and give us tranquility for the rest of the games," midfielder Deco said. "A loss would have made things harder for us and we wanted to avoid that."
The Portuguese had been saying all along that they didn't want to go through what happened in 2004 again and were focused on avoiding another opening defeat at all costs. Nearly half of the players on this squad played at Euro 2004.
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who had said he would even be satisfied with a draw, was elated with the victory.
"It is great for us to have three points, just like the Czechs," Scolari said. "We wanted breathing space and we got that.
The Czech Republic beat co-host Switzerland 1-0 in the competition's opener Saturday in Basel in the other Group A match.
Portugal plays the Czechs on Wednesday in Geneva.
The Portuguese squad had a setback just hours before the match against Turkey after finding out that reserve goalkeeper Quim Silva was ruled out of the tournament after breaking his right wrist in practice on Friday. He will be replaced by Nuno Espirito Santo.
It is Portugal's first major competition since Luis Figo and veteran striker Pauleta _ the nation's all-time leading scorer _ retired from the national team after its fourth-place finish at the 2006 World Cup.
The Portuguese are playing in the final phase of the European competition for the fifth time, and have never failed to advance from the group stage. The team's appearance in the Euro 2004 final marked its best ever performance.
Turkey is at its first major competition since being beaten by Brazil in the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.


Updated : 2021-02-28 18:15 GMT+08:00