Portugal 2 Turkey 0: Ronaldo and Scolari stick to the plot
Monday 09 June 2008
For an hour, the suspicion was that long-running sub-plots would overshadow live drama. Each time Luiz Felipe Scolari emerged to lambast his Portugal team, as he did with increasing irritation, it brought to mind Chelsea's interest in the Brazilian manager. And, inevitably, Cristiano Ronaldo's every move was scrutinised as that of a possible Real Madrid player.
Fortunately, a splendidly-constructed opener from Pepe, the only member of the Portugal back four not enlisted by Chelsea, and a second from Raul Meireles ensured that by the finish the talk was focused more on Scolari winning a European Championship and Ronaldo becoming the player of the tournament.
Until Pepe jemmied open the contest with a goal started by Ronaldo, the Brazilian-born Real Madrid central defender scoring after a a fine one-two with his captain, Nuno Gomes, the group favourites appeared in danger of repeating their failing of four years ago and losing their first game. Before then, despite Ronaldo forcing a splendid save from Volkan Demirel, who touched his venomous free-kick on to the far post, and Gomes striking the woodwork, it appeared as if Turkey's last-ditch challenges and offside snare, into which Scolari's men too frequently fell, could prove effective.
Whatever the words of Scolari at half-time, they produced a response. Portugal raced through the gears and Fatih Terim's team were, eventually, brushed aside.
Ronaldo can be trusted to maintain the standards he has set at Old Trafford. He was given the captain's armband when Gomes was substituted, Scolari explaining: "I gave Cristiano the captaincy to give him strength and motivation." He revelled in a more advanced role.
Deco impressed, as did Joao Moutinho. If there is a concern, it is that Gomes alone up front is not a solution to the problem position of striker.
Scolari said: "We need six points so 50 per cent after one match is excellent. "We wanted some breathing space, and we got that."
No such luck for Ronaldo, though. The questioning began again. "I still don't know where I will play, I have not decided yet," he said. "I cannot worry about this, so I am calm." Too damn calm for Portugal's opponents.
Goals: Pepe (61) 1-0; Meireles (90) 2-0.
Portugal (4-2-3-1): Ricardo (Real Betis); Bosingwa (Chelsea), Pepe (Real Madrid), Carvalho (Chelsea), Ferreira (Chelsea); Petit (Benfica), Moutinho (Sporting Lisbon); Ronaldo (Manchester United), Deco (Barcelona), Simao (Atletico Madrid); Gomes (Benfica). Substitutes used: Meireles (Porto) for Simao, 63; Nani (Manchester United) for Gomes, 69; Meira (VfB Stuttgart) for Deco, 90
Turkey (4-3-3): Volkan (Fenerbahce); Altintop (Bayern Munich), Servet (Galatasaray), Gokhan (Besiktas), Hakan (Galatasaray); Kazim-Richards (Fenerbahce), Emre (Fenerbahce), Aurelio (Fenerbahce); Erdinc (Sochaux), Nihat (Villarreal), Tuncay (Middlesbrough). Substitutes used: Sabri Sarioglu (Galatasaray) for Erdinc, 46; Emre Asik (Galatasaray) for Gokhan, 55; Semih Senturk (Fenerbahce) for Altintop, 76.
Referee: H Fandel (Germany).
Booked: Turkey Kazim-Richards, Gokhan, Sabri Sarioglu.
Man of the match: Ronaldo.
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