Portugal v Greece match report

Last updated : 14 June 2004 By The Govanhill Gub

And truth be told this festival offers up the last chance for a collection of players who have been referred to as the 'Golden Generation' in that country to be remembered with something more tangible than mere affection and admiration.

Sure the Figos and the Rui Costas of this world have scaled the top at individual and club level but collectively the 'golden' ones have failed to shine on a consistent basis. And if you ask any Portuguese taxi driver they'll be sure to tell you the same thing!

Still on the subject of this Portugal side. Can it really be fifteen years ago that 27,000 packed into Tynecastle with thousands more locked out to see the young Scots of the day beat them 3-2 in the quarter finals of the U 21 World Cup? Oh well, never mind.

So can Portugal finally deliver for the home fans? Well they got off to a bad start. Figo gave away a free kick in the first 30 seconds, which could have had disastrous results for his side. From the resultant award Greece worked the ball down the left and a good ball in saw Greek centre, Carasteus, take a fresh air strike at a ball, which deserved better.

However better things were in store for Greece in the shape of midfielder Karagounis, who on 6 minutes latched onto a quite appalling mistake from Porto's right back Pereria, gleefully ran 15 yards or so and with the Portuguese defence backing off he duly dispatched a 'daisy cutter' into the right hand corner of the net.

The Greeks were flying now and they could have gone 2 goals up following another Carasteus half chance after the Portuguese defence went AWOL once again. Nerves were affecting the home nation and how.

Just three minutes later and incredibly another half chance went begging when the home defence found themselves sloshing about in the Mediterranean once again. Thankfully for the home fans, it all ended with a speculative volley over the bar.

Portugal's first real effort came just after quarter of an hour when Costinha shot wide after good work by Figo on the right. The Porto defender followed up that good work five minutes later with a booking.

Two minutes later and once again the visitors could have scored when Carasteus found himself unmarked from a corner floated in from the left but his effort sailed over. If nothing else once again the nerves in the home defence were highlighted for all to see.

The game as it reached the first half hour was crying out for some inspiration but what we were treated to on 28 minutes was the worst, best referee in the world, Mr Collina, missing a quite blatant tug by a Greek defender on Figo. This trait must be a baldy ref thing as we witness the same behaviour from Collina's Scottish look-alike every time he officiates a Rangers match.

Collina was at his most consistent, inconsistent best seven minutes later when first, he ignored a cynical foul on a Greek midfielder as they threatened on the break, yet he cautioned a visitor only 30 seconds later for the same offence. But that's Mr Collina for you.

Figo treated us to some fancy footwork on 42 minutes to set up Maniche for a long-range effort. By this time the home support were grateful for any hint of invention or aggression that was coming their way. The same player took a direct free kick on half time but it was as disappointing from a Portuguese point of view as anything else that had went before.

Porto's Deco and Ronaldo from Man Utd came on as second half subs for the very disappointing Rui Costa and Simao respectively to try and inject some spark and running into what was a very, lethargic home side but unfortunately for the Manchester youngster it was he who gave a away a penalty five minutes into the second period. It was hard to be too harsh on the teenager as he lost possession to Seitardis after an appalling cross-field pass from Costinha and he ended up barging the Greek back to the ground.

Baninas stroked away the resultant spot kick and unbelievably the home side now found themselves chasing the game, if not the tournament after only 50 minutes of the opening game!

Despite the guile and art of Deco and the youthful running of Ronaldo it was hard to see where inspiration was going to come from for a home side that was draining and diminishing in confidence in front of our very eyes. Deco by now was finding it hard to escape the shackles of his man markers.

There were a couple of cameo moments on 68 and 72 minutes, which summed up Portugal's day. First of all Ronaldo threw over a great cross with no takers to be had and then Figo threatened briefly, but his eventual chip sailed way over. It was that sort of day for the home side.

Two minutes later and the young Man td player won a cheap free kick, which should have resulted in more danger but this would have been hard luck on his opponents.

It was all becoming increasing frantic for the home side by now without the Greek goal ever being seriously threatened. By the 80th minute, Greece seemed to have weathered the storm and looked quite at ease with whatever the home side threw at them. Their day seemed to be complete on 92 minutes when Deco had a very, feeble shot, which was never going to trouble the goalkeeper. That was a signal for the booing and catcalls to start.

A minute later and Ronaldo scored a consolation for the home side with a free header from a corner. But it was all too little too late. It might have been a goal that the youngster fully deserved for such an energetic display. The 2-1 result for the Greeks however was no more than their dogged display deserved. And in fact if Carasteus had been in form in the first half then the result could have been more emphatic. What a way to earn your first major tournament win!

As for Portugal it was obvious that they were weighed down by the expectations demanded of the host nation. Their fans will hope the first night nerves have now been well and truly banished.

Man of the Match - Carasteus. He was the big Greek, the Portugal defence was dreading!

Teams - Portugal Ricardo, Ferreira, Andrade, Couto, Rui Jorge, Costinha, (Gomes 66) Maniche, Figo, Rui Costa, (Deco 45) Simao, (Ronaldo) Pauleta