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First Round

  • Mon. 12th June: (Group A)
    Game 06 Portugal - England
    Philips stadium, Eindhoven (20:45)

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Portugal

Game 06

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England

When England go into this game, they will already know the result of the Germany - Romania encounter. Whether that helps or hinders Keegan's boys, remains to be seen.

Keegan may fancy his side's chances in this tournament but shouldn't be taking any himself. The England manager once again looks to the experience of his trusty workhorses to grind out a result against Portugal. With three points on the table, the fancy football may come later.

Alan Shearer came through a Saturday training session and says he's fit to play; whether he should or not was a hot discussion with the fans during the World Cup in France, two years ago -- asset or liability? It depends if the team is about spirit, or creativity. Tony Adams may no longer touch spirits in a bottle but he still has plenty of it in his heart. Standing behind him may well be David Seaman. Past his sell-by date perhaps, and no longer up to the ordeal of penalties.

If Steve McManaman takes up his position on the left and David Beckham is at his best on the right, England may just pose something of a threat. Beckham will need to control his tantrums and direct his energy positively; it helps when all eleven players remain on the pitch for the full duration of a game.

McManaman's experience at Real Madrid will be an asset, although he'll need a strong head to forget his previous England performances that never were. Give away possession too much, and Figo will be past him with Phil Neville in his sights. Some have said that if the brothers Neville didn't play together at Manchester United, they might not be in an England shirt at all.

Portugal have something of an injury scare. The 30-year-old Porto goalkeeper, Vitor Baia, has had surgery on his right knee and pulled out of a recent warm-up. It's doubtful if he can kick with his right foot at all.

Paolo Sousa, the Parma midfielder, is also receiving treatment on his thigh.

The England game plan must be to put Figo on the back foot and restrict Portugal's chances of passing the ball around. Rui Costa would cherish any space given and Joao Pinto's no slouch either.

In qualifying, Portugal averaged 3.2 goals a game and only conceded four in their ten matches. Sounds impressive, until you take into account that most of the goals were scored in two games against Liechtenstein and the home encounter with Azerbaijan.

Recent form:
Portugal:
Andorra 0-0
Azerbaijan 1-1
(Qual)
Romania 1-1
(Qual)
Hungary 3-0
(Qual)
Belgium 1-1
Denmark 2-1
Italy 0-2
Wales 3-0
England:
Poland 0-0
(Qual)
Belgium 2-1
Scotland 2-0
(Play-off)
Scotland 0-1
(Play-off)
Argentina 0-0
Brazil 1-1
Ukraine 2-0
Malta 2-1

Portugal Team:
1-Vitor Baia
14-Abel Xavier, 2-Jorge Costa, 5-Fernando Couto, 13-Xavier Dimas
7-Luis Figo, 10-Rui Costa, 4-Jose Vidigal, 17-Paulo Bento
8-Joao Pinto, 21-Nuno Gomes

England Team:
1-Seaman
2-G Neville, 5-Adams, 4-Campbell, 3-P Neville
7-Beckham, 14-Ince, 8-Scholes, 11-McManaman
9-Shearer, 10-Owen

Referee: Anders Frisk (Swe).

First Half:
Forty-five minutes of turbo-charged, end to end action is the only way to describe the start to this game.

Within three minutes Kevin Keegan has a smile on his face as Paul Scholes rises to head home a high, curling, David Beckham cross from the right. The header goes in off the underside of the crossbar.

Straight away Luis Figo and Rui Costa are down the other end to test David Seaman and the English defence. The Arsenal goalkeeper is forced to punch the ball away.

Rui Costa gets a cross in to Joao Pinto. Seaman is all over the place and can only thank the heavens that the header was down to the floor instead of towards its target.

England breaking on every chance, and Portugal are back at them again. Rui Costa from 35yards forces a flying save from Seaman; for a corner.

The second England goal comes in eighteen minutes. Michael Owen feeds the ball to David Beckham at the right edge of the area. The Manchester glamour-boy crosses to an unmarked Steve McManaman at the far post. The former Liverpool player side-foots a curling volley.

Straight from the kick-off Rui Costa has a goal disallowed for offside but Figo soon pulls one back for the Portuguese. England are caught square and David Seaman watches the ball rocket past his head into the net.

Fifteen minutes later and it's all square. England's attack is cut out and Portugal come again slowly. Rui Costa crosses from the right edge of the box as Joao Pinto runs to the front of the English defence and glances a powerful header past Seaman.
Half-time: 2-2.

Second Half:
The end of the match was the mirror opposite of the start. Kevin Keegan's face hung low as he watched the Portuguese walk to get the ball for throw-ins, talk about free-kicks, and generally drag the game out as long as possible. Even Paulo Bento thought his boots needed relacing.

High entertainment had turned into a total farce. The Swedish referee eventually chose to show the yellow card to Vito Baia, on the 90th minute, for wasting what little time was left.

The Portuguese had destroyed England just before the hour with another display of fine pace, precision passing and a brilliant finish by Nuno Gomes; aid and abetted by more poor defending on England's part. Tony Adams could only hold his hips in shame.

The third Portuguese goal came straight after Steve McManaman limped off with an injured left knee, to be replaced by Dennis Wise.

England were already missing Michael Owen since the restart, with Emile Heskey on as his replacement. Try as they could, England never found any rhythm after Portugal took the lead. Portugal were in command, playing the ball around to cries of Ole then flying forward through Rui Costa and Figo. England had their moments, but they were brief; and Portugal slowed the game down again.

Result: Portugal 3 -- England 2

Man of the Match: Rui Costa.

Tournament Index -- Group Tables -- Qualifying Round -- Live -- Forum

 

Mon. 12th June: (Group A)
Game 05 Germany - Romania (1-1)

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