Portugal look the part – Euro 08 slot 3 Czech Rep 1

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Portugal continued to impress at slot 2008 as they got the better of the Czech Republic in a fast-paced Group A match, edging towards the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win.

Neither side had gained any momentum before Portugal broke the deadlock after eight minutes had been played.

Deco and Cristiano Ronaldo had already been given too much space in midfield and it was through a combination of the two that the first goal came about.

Ronaldo’s run on goal was halted when Petr Cech rushed out and clawed the ball away, but it fell into the path of Deco who struggled to avoid a desperate dive from Cech and mis-hit a shot that deflected off Marek Jankulovski on the line and rolled into the net.

Portugal looked content to hold their lead but, despite no previous attacking intent, the Czech Republic drew level just nine minutes later.

Libor Sionko, outstanding down the right and later on through the middle, nutmegged defender Pepe before winning a corner from which the equaliser came.

Having already shown skill and composure on the ball, Sionko demonstrated his aerial ability by throwing himself at the corner and powering a header past Ricardo.

Portugal were reduced to long-range efforts for much of the rest of the first half, but, despite good intentions from the Czechs, a second goal never looked likely.

Instead it was Portugal who ended the half well and came out in the second period full of energy and invention.

Nuno Gomes wasted a good chance in the 53rd minute, shooting straight at Cech after he had spun away from the last defender, while a mistake from David Rozehnal allowed him another chance two minutes later, but again he failed to beat the Chelsea keeper.

Ten minute later Portugal were ahead again. Deco attacked down the right side and laid the ball off to Ronaldo on the edge of the area and the Manchester United star fired low past Cech for his first goal of the tournament.

Chances came the Czech Republic’s way in the remaining half-hour, but only a Sionko header in the 83rd minute forced Ricardo to make a save, tipping over when Sionko had enough time and space to pick his spot.

By the time Ricardo Quaresma scored the third – the young Porto winger had been given the goal by Ronaldo who beat the offside trap and chose to pass when he had only Cech to beat – the Czechs were looking tired.

For them a nail-biting, must-win match with Turkey awaits, while Portugal will only need to draw with Switzerland on Sunday to win the group.

European Championship 2008 – Group B News

Croatia:

Croatia are sweating on the fitness of key midfielder Luka Modric ahead of their second Group B clash with Germany on Thursday.

The 22-year-old playmaker scored from the penalty spot in their opening 1-0 success over co-hosts Austria on Sunday but sat out training on Monday with a strained Achilles tendon.

“Luka Modric is not taking part in training because he has a strained right Achilles tendon, but it’s nothing serious and he is exercising on his own,” said team spokesman Davor Gavran.

Meanwhile, coach Slaven Bilic has suggested he will make changes for the Germany game after several players were below-par against Austria.

“We have several alternative formations as options. We have used all of them before and Ivan Rakitic is a strong candidate to play a part against Germany,” he said.

“We wanted to bring him on against the Austrians in the second half but the match took a course which dictated different substitutions.”

Poland:

Poland have revealed that captain Maciej Zurawski is likely to miss the rest of the tournament with a thigh muscle injury.

The 31-year-old striker was withdrawn at half-time during Sunday’s 2-0 opening Group B defeat to Germany in Klagenfurt and is unlikely to regain fitness in time to make another appearance.

“Maciej Zurawski has strained quads and has some bleeding so it’s likely he will not be available for the team, maybe even until the end of the tournament,” said team doctor Jerzy Grzywocz.

“For the moment he will not participate in the next two games.”

Grzywocz also revealed that midfielder Mariusz Lewandowski has an ankle knock but is expected to be available for Poland’s next game against Austria on Thursday.

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