Portugal pressed

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The Independent Online
Portugal came into Euro 96 among the favourites, because of the fluent, skilful and attrac- tive football they played in qualifying.

Yet they have not had an easy ride so far in the tournament itself and their trainer Antonio Oliveira has been forced to compromise his high ideals of cultured football for the more basic purpose of grinding out the required result. Portugal, who played superbly in their opening match against the defending champions Denmark, while having to be content with a 1-1 draw, found sophistication was not enough to overcome underrated Turkey on Friday.

Badly in need of victory, Oliveira analysed his team's goalless scoreline at half-time and sent on a defensive midfielder, Jose Tavares, in place of the forward Antonio Folha.

"Turkey were a very difficult opponent and we had to change something," he said. "We needed to find a way to score without taking unnecessary risks at the back."

The switch worked admirably. Tavares swept up in front of the back four to blot out Turkey's threatening build-ups while Paulo Sousa was able to push forward and create danger. It was Paulo Sousa who laid on the cross for Fernando Couto to score the only goal of the game.

That it should need a central defender to score the goal in a match in which Portugal's strikers squandered several chances clearly had Oliveira concerned.

"We had a lot of wasted chances," he said. "This is something we are going to have to look at and get right in the next game."

He need look little further than the Sporting Lisbon striker Ricardo Sa Pinto, goal hero against Denmark but guilty of missing two sitters against the Turks. The defender Helder also wasted a wide open goal.

Portugal boast their best team since they came third in the 1966 World Cup. But the team will need to do more than dazzle with their Brazilian- style wizardry in the final group D game against Croatia in Nottingham on Wednesday if they are to reach the last eight.

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