match reports - 2005/06
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World Cup 2006 - Semi-Final (Munich)

Portugal 0-1 France

Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel (Paulo Ferreira 60), Ricardo Carvalho, Fernando Meira, Nuno Valente, Costinha (Postiga 74), Maniche, Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Pauleta (Simão 68)

France: Barthez, Sagnol, Gallas, Thuram, Abidal, Makelele, Vieira, Zidane, Malouda (Wiltord 69), Ribery (Govou 72), Henry (Saha 84)

fp Man of the Match: Maniche (Portugal)

France were first in action in this semi-final, Malouda through in the first minute to put the ball wide, but it was Portugal who took control of the first quarter, pushing France onto the back foot and trying their luck with long shots from Deco, Maniche and Figo. Portugal's midfield was stifling adequately enough the threat from the perceived danger-men Zidane and Ribery, then France got the breakthrough that was to prove decisive. On 32 minutes, Henry turned Ricardo Carvalho on the edge of the box, and the Chelsea central defender atypically stuck out a leg to allow Henry to make the most of it and win a penalty. Ricardo could not repeat the miracle of the England game, and Zidane's spot kick went sailing in past his right hand. Four minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo claimed a penalty at the other end for a push by Sagnol, but he appeared to have een falling before the push. Portugal had the better chances before the break, with a long shot from Maniche into the arms of Barthez, and two shots from Cristiano Ronaldo, one blocked, one wide.

After a brief spell of activity around the Portuguese goal at the beginning of the second half, with Henry forcing an instinctive save from Ricardo from a narrow angle, and Ribery forcing the 'keeper to palm away, France shut up shop, putting ten men behind the ball for most of the half. Just as against England, Portugal didn't really know what to do with so much possession and a team that sat back, not helped by a formation that had an ineffectual Pauleta set adrift between Gallas and Thuram and getting no change from them. Even so, it was the Azorean striker who had one of Portugal's best chances, swivelling near goal only to crack the ball into the side netting. Not only were France defending with ten mean, they were also playing for time, and this might have been their downfall but for two missed opportunities late on: Figo headed over from close range after Barthez had fumbled Maniche's shot on 77 minutes, and on 92, Meira blasted a loose ball over when he would have had time to control it and pick his spot. By the end, Portugal were so desperate that Ricardo was going up for corners, but his miracle potion had well and truly been used up against England, and Portugal were out of the World Cup.



World Cup 2006 - Group D (Frankfurt)

Portugal 2-0 Iran

Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel, Ricardo Carvalho, Fernando Meira, Nuno Valente, Costinha, Maniche (Petit 66), Deco (Tiago 79), Figo (Simão 87), Cristiano Ronaldo, Pauleta

Iran: Mirzapour, Kaabi, Golmohammadi (Bakhtiarizadeh 88), Rezaei, Nosrati, Teymourian, Nekounam, Mahdavikia, Madanchi (Khatibi 65), Karimi (Zandi 64), Hashemian

fp Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo

Against Iran, Portugal put in a much better display than against Angola in the opener; their football was more cohesive, coherent, flowing. They had almost 70% of possession and most of it was in Iran's half. Iran were very disappointing and leave the World Cup without glory … unless they can do something against Angola in the final group game.

Portugal were bright from the start, and within the first ten minutes had created at least three good chances, Deco, Miguel and Costinha squandering them. It was 11 minutes before Iran threatened, a Karimi header going harmlessly wide. A minute later, Deco found space after a neat pass from Figo and his excellent shot was saved well by Mirzapour. Iran could make no headway against a very tight midfield, with the old FC Porto trio of Deco, Maniche and Costinha providing a solid wall of resistance. And so Portugal continued to pour forward, with more and more chances being created. Cristiano Ronaldo had a header cleared off the line on 33 minutes, and just before the break the impressive Miguel found his way into the box on the right, but his shot was half saved and squirmed past the post.

Iran were a little more belligerent in the second half, Portugal a little less full of themselves, but unlike in the first half, they made the fewer chances they were creating count. The breakthrough came on 63 minutes. Figo took the ball down the left, cut inside and squared it for Deco to hit first time from the edge of the box and inside the left post, with Mirzapour rooted to the spot. It was an excellent goal and came as a huge relief to the vast following of the Selecção in the Waldstadion in Frankfurt. As a preventative measure, Scolari brought on Petit and later Tiago to solidify the midfield, because there was always the danger of a freak Iranian goal. But they did not really look like scoring, apart from a header by Hashemian on 77 minutes that Ricardo got down well to hold. A minute later, Portuguese relief was complete: Figo went on another run down the left, entered the box and was brought down. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to send Mirzapour the wrong way, and it was all over bar the shouting. The Manchester United winger found the net again in the last minute of added time, but he was given offside.



Taça de Portugal - Final (Jamor, 37,000)

FC Porto 1-0 Vitória de Setúbal

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Pedro Emanuel, Lucho Gonzalez, Paulo Assunção, Anderson (Marek Cech 75), Alan, Benni McCarthy (Ibson 85), Adriano, Ricardo Quaresma (Jorginho 68)

Vitória de Setúbal: Rubinho, Janício, Veríssimo, Aurí, Adalto (Sougou 56), Binho (Fonseca 81), Sandro, Bruno Ribeiro, Ricardo Chaves (Pedro Oliveira 68), Verela, Carlitos

fp Man of the Match: Rubinho (Vitória)

FC Porto came into this game on a high, after clinching and celebrating a hard-earned Liga title. Unlike Benfica a year ago against the same team, Vitória de Setúbal , Porto did not underestimate their opponents, although coach Co Adriaanse fielded a very attacking team. It was this line-up that dominated the first half, with Ricardo Quaresma eager to show on-looking national team coach Luís Felipe Scolari that it was a mistake to leave him out of the squad for Germany. It was Quaresma, in fact that crossed from deep for Adriano to glance a header past an out-of-position Rubinho, the only mistake in an otherwise immaculate display. Five minutes earlier, Vitória had come the closer to scoring when Carlitos cracked a drive against the bar from 20 metres. But it was Vitória's only real attacking contribution in the first half, clearly unable to cope as they were with Porto's heavily populated and talented midfield.

The second half was similar to the first, but the other way round. Porto sat back a little dangerously, while Vitória, realising that no glory was going to come to those who waited, cranked it up a gear and started to put pressure on the Porto goal. Porto were still approaching the Vitória goal with some danger, but there was always the inevitable Rubinho to block, palm and catch. On the hour, the moment of the game saw Vitória's hopes thwarted with a magnificent save at the other end by Helton from a treacherous shot by Bruno Ribeiro. It was Vitória's swan-song, apart from a speculative cross-cum-shot by Carlitos ten minutes from time that caught Helton off his line but that shaded the post on the wrong side for Vitória. Vitória's spirit and hopes wilted in the hot spring afternoon at a magnificent Jamor stadium, and Porto hung on to lift their 13th Taça.



(Liga, 19th jornada)

Benfica 1-3 Sporting

Benfica: Moretto, Alcides, Luisão, Anderson, Nélson, Beto (Marcel, 71 m), Petit, Geovanni (Laurent Robert 77 m), Manduca (Manuel Fernandes 53 m), Simão, Nuno Gomes

Sporting: Ricardo, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Caneira, Carlos Martins (Nani 55 m), Custódio, João Moutinho, Sá Pinto (Miguel Garcia, 90 m), Deivid (João Alves 79m), Liedson.

fp Man of the Match: Ricardo Sá Pinto (Sporting)

In the 263rd official game between the two Lisbon Grandes, in which Benfica were starting from the privileged position of clear favourites in terms of form and position in the Liga, Sporting came along and upset the apple cart with a performance of great spirit, discipline and guile that reduced Benfica to a shadow of their recent former self.

It started shakily for Sporting, with Ricardo doing one of his infamous disparates, stepping outside the area with the ball. Luckily for them, Petit's low free-kick was bundled wide by the Benfica attack. But Sporting were soon in charge of proceedings - their midfield of Custódio, Moutinho, Carlos Martins and Sá Pinto were much more aggressive than their counterparts, and Sporting were creating many more chances than Benfica. Their first moment came on 20 minutes with a run down the right by Abel, crossing low for Liedson to crack the ball wide. But on 25 minutes, against the run of play, Benfica went in front: A free-kick from Simão was handled accidentally by Custódio, and the same Simão sent Ricardo the wrong way from the spot. Before half time, Sporting were several times close to equalising, notably on 37 minutes when Carlos Martins sent a long-range shot crashing against Moretto's left-hand post. Still before the break, Deivid headed wide when he should have scored, and Sá Pinto curled a shot just wide. If any of these efforts had gone in, it would have been justice being seen to be done.

The second half started cagey, the first danger coming fifteen minutes in, a Sá Pinto cross being spoiled by confusion between Liedson and Deivid. But five minutes later, Sporting saw justice with a penalty, Beto bundling over Liedson, just inside the area. Ricardo Sá Pinto fired his spot-kick to the left of the goal and under the body of Moretto. Ten minutes later, more justice was done when a long ball out of defence was chased down the left by Liedson. He caught up with it by the corner flag, took Luisão on, beat him and fired in from an angle. Then on 82 minutes, the tireless Liedson clinched the three points when he latched onto another long ball from defence, beating Moretto to it, rounding him and slotting into the empty net. In added time, Custódio and Tonel got in each other's way for what might have been Sporting's fourth. And on the night, a fourth would not actually have been an exaggeration.



(Liga, 7th jornada)

FC Porto 0-2 Benfica

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Costa, César Peixoto, Lucho Gonzalez (Quaresma 64), Jorginho, Ibson, Alan (Hugo Almeida 69), McCarthy, Lisandro (Diego 24).

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Anderson, Léo, Petit; Karagounis (Karyaka 54), Manuel Fernandes, Simão, Nuno Gomes, Miccoli (Geovanni 14, Ricardo Rocha 88).

fp Man of the Match: Luisão (Benfica)

Benfica put in a terrific second-half display to crush FC Porto on their own turf in the first clássico of the season between the two clubs. The first half was a nondescript affair, with very little goalmouth action and the play squashed into the middle third of the pitch. In fact it was marked more by fouls and injuries than anything else: Miccoli pulled a thigh muscle after only 14 minutes and Karagounis finished off Lisandro Lopez on 20 with a foul from behind that might have earned him a red card - Lucílio Baptista only showed a yellow. Benfica had a couple of clear opportunities, Simão with a header and Geovanni with a swerving shot coming close. But it was their immaculate organization that was to prove decisive, reducing the on-paper ultra-offensive Porto to just two chances: McCarthy from close range on 29, stifled by an attentive Quim, and Jorginho shooting weakly on 34 for an easy stop by the Benfica 'keeper. And it was the excellent Luisão who denied Porto a goal just before half time with a timely interception of a Diego cross, three Porto players lurking behind him.

It was a rattled Porto and buoyant Benfica that returned for the second half. Ten minutes in, Benfica's superb right back Nélson, a bargain buy from Boavista, crossed for Nuno Gomes to head home, Bosingwa and Ricardo Costa getting in an awful tangle. Then on 63 minutes, Benfica were two up, Karyaka working the ball through to Geovanni on the right, the Brazilian taking it to the line and crossing low, with Ricardo Costa fumbling the interceeption and Nuno Gomes tapping in at the back post for his and his team's second. Benfica might have been further in front had Simão shown a little more clarity in a three-on-one situation on the break on 77 minutes. Then on 81, the manifestation of Porto's lack of discipline: central defender Bruno Alves brought Nuno Gomes down with an awful foul, and when the Benfica striker got up to complain, Alves headbutted him. A red card, of course, which prompted whistles and white handkerchiefs from many amongst the 50,000 crowd - not against the referee Lucilio Baptista but against Alves, the Porto team and coach Co Adriaanse. Five minutes later, Benfica left back Léo saw a second yellow for a foul on Quaresma to even up the numbers, but it was not enough to swing the game Porto's way. Once again, their defence had been found wanting at crucial moments, and on the day, thanks to resolute defending from Benfica, their attack had been given very little room to manouevre.



(Champions League Group H - second game)
FC Porto
2-3 Artmedia (Slovakia)

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Bosingwa, Ricardo Costa (Alan, 76), Bruno Alves, César Peixoto, Ibson, Lucho Gonzalez, Diego (Hugo Almeida, 76), Ricardo Quaresma, Benni McCarthy, Jorginho.

Artmedia: Cobej, Burak (Halenar, 46), Durica, Petras (Stano, 79), Debnar, Urbanek, Borbely, Kozak, Fodrek, Hartig (Obzera, 84), Vaskak

fp Man of the Match: Cobej (Artmedia)

FC Porto seriously jeoparised their chances of qualification from Group H of the Champions League with a 2-3 home defeat to surprise package Artmedia of Bratislava. The current World Club Champions couldn't have started better, with clear advantage in terms of territory and possession and a 2-0 lead going into added time of the first half. Argentinian midfielder Lucho Gonzalez, with his first goal for the club, had headed them in front from a superb cross by Ricardo Quaresma on 31 minutes, and Porto's strongest player on the night, Brazilian midfielder Diego, made it two on 38 with a scything run at goal and low shot from the edge of the area after Jorginho had caught the Artmedia defence napping with a quick throw-in.

When the groups were drawn, Artmedia were seen in Portugal as a soft touch. Not any more. Always poised for the counter attack, they pulled one back as Porto wound down for the break, Petras breaking into the area on the left to send two defenders the wrong way and plant the ball past Baía.

Ten minutes into the second half, it was all square. The Porto defence was all at sea as the Artmedia midfield moved the ball quickly forward, and Kozak had time to round Baía and score, winger Quaresma (!) getting a foot to the ball but unable to keep it out. Doubt spread through Porto's play like a cancer from then on in, and it turned critical on 73 minutes when Borbely gave the Slovakian side the lead. There should have been time for Porto to drag something back, but their play was by now dictated by hearts rather than heads, and coach Co Adriaanse had taken off the one player who had been glueing it all together, Diego. They had also left their shooting boots at home (McCarthy was guilty of squandering several sitters), and when they were on target, Cobej in the Artmedia goal was invariably excellent.

Mourinho's Champions League-winning Porto of two seasons ago were built on a rock solid defence (as is his Chelsea of today). Adriaanse has professed a love for attacking football, and indeed the current Porto side is packed with crowd- pleasers. But oh, that defence ....



(Liga, 2nd jornada)
Estrela da Amadora 1-1 Boavista

Estrela da Amadora: Bruno Vale, Tony, Santamaria, Maurício, Eusébio (Igor, 66 m), Paulo Machado (Igor Souza, 46 m), Coutinho, Emerson, Rui Duarte (Rui Borges, 46 m), Manu, Anselmo.
Coach: António Conceição

Boavista: William, Manuel José, Hélder Rosário, Cadu, Carlos Fernandes, Lucas, Tiago, João Pinto (Areias, 84 m), Guga, William Souza (Cafu, 70 m), Diogo Valente (Cissé, 63 m).
Coach: Carlos Brito

fp Man of the Match: Manú (Estrela)

Estrela and Boavista are two clubs with ostensibly different objectives in the Liga: Estrela, newly promoted, will be happy to stay up, especially with four going down this season, while Boavista want to return to European football after a couple of very lean seasons. But you wouldn't have guessed this watching the 2nd jornada game at the Estádio José Gomes. Estrela had already put in a bright start at Porto last weekend, despite losing, and this game was a continuation of that performance. Their defence was solid, their midfield combative, and in winger Manú, they had a little wizard who caused Boavista a whole bunch of headaches. Boavista, on the other hand, barely renewed in the close season (only two players in the starting line up, William Souza and Manuel Jose, were a change from last season), look stale before they start.

Estrela had the lion's share of the chances in the first half, two of which falling to the inevitable Manú: the first, on 14 minutes, saw him take down a deep cross from Rui Duarte only for his shot to be blocked by the (almost immaculate) William, and on 38 minutes he went on a delirious run through the heart of Boavista's midfield and defence before seeming to come to his senses, allowing Boavista to clear. Then, as often happens, Boavista were in front, entirely against the run of play. Deep into added time in the first half, Diogo Valente took a free kick that was virtually a short corner from the right, and central defender Hélder Rosário was strongest in the heart of the area to head home.

It was a long way from being a just half-time score, but Estrela didn't despair and came out for the second half with the same objective attitude. They were close on 50 minutes when a Eusébio shot was tipped over by William, but they had a bit of luck when Boavista were reduced to ten on 55 when Tiago, a hard man and often victimised by referees, was sent packing after a second yellow for an innocuous foul. Boavista had 35 minutes to play with one man less, and if their play had been frustratingly mundane before the sending off, it took on a grim form after it. Having said that, they were defending stoutly until on the half hour of the second half, Estrela's giant central defender Maurício strode through from his own half with the ball at his feet, and in the absence of a challenge, let fly from a full 40 metres. The ball shot goalwards but should have been William's. If it wasn't, and if it flew past the 'keeper's shoulder and found the net, there were three things to blame: William's positioning, his lack of attention and a crazy change of course of the ball, kicking up off an appalling pitch (which looked like they'd been playing on it for a whole season - that or growing spuds). Whatever, the ball was nestling in the net and Estrela were level.

Estrela had more chances after that to seal all three points, but wayward marksmanship, a spent Manú and William atoning kept them out, while near the end, Boavista mustered some ineffectual energy to attack the Estrela goal, but with little clarity, and few men forward.

Estrela will feel robbed on the night but will look to the rest of the season with confidence, while it is hard to see Boavista, with this squad, doing any better than last season's sixth spot.



(Champions League, Third Qualifying Round, First Leg)
Sporting 0-1 Udinese
(Att: 35,000)

Sporting: Ricardo, Miguel Garcia (Rogério, 58 m), Polga, Beto, Rodrigo Tello, Sá Pinto, Custódio (Nani, 73 m), João Moutinho, Douala; Deivid (Silva, 79 m), Liedson.
Coach: José Peseiro.

Udinese: De Sanctis, Bertotto, Natali, Felipe; Zenoni, Obodo, Muntari (Mauri, 72 m), Candela, Di Natale (Rossini, 81 m), Iaquinta, Barreto (Vidigal, 42 m).
Coach: Serse Cosmi

fp Man of the Match: de Sanctis (Udinese)

Sporting stumbled at the first hurdle of what is now odds-on to be a short-lived Champions League campaign when they went down 0-1 at home to a difficult but in the event accessible Udinese Wednesday.

In a lively first half, Udinese had the first chance, Candela pinging a long shot against the bar after just two minutes. On five, Liedson was close with a near-post flick from a Douala cross, and that set the tone for most of the first half - Sporting with the pressure, Udinese creating occasional moments of panic in the hearts of sportinguistas. But for all Sporting's flow towards the Udinese goal, they were either hitting balls wide, high or within range of the unflappable arms of the excellent de Sanctis. And then on 27 minutes, the thing that Sporting most feared - the Italians scoring an away goal. It came from the spot, the useful Iaquinta sending Ricardo the wrong way after Miguel Garcia had clumsily fouled Barreto just inside the area. It was the excuse, if any was needed, for Udinese to shut up shop even tighter, but that only brought Sporting forward and increased their possession time. But still Sporting's marksmanship was off (Moutinho, Deivid and Polga), and Sanctis continued unpassable (two free-kicks on the half-hour from Tello, and a drive from Custódio on half-time).

Udinese were if anything even more compact in the second half, and Sporting much less incisive, but they might have had two penalties when Natale brought Liedson down on 48 and 70 minutes, and they got close enough to net twice through Rogério and Liedson, but both efforts were cancelled out legitimately for offside, the second in the follow-up to Sá Pinto hitting a post. In the last ten minutes, first Moutinho, then Liedson and finally Polga couldn't find the target from good chances, and that was that.



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