'The sort of opposition we need'

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The Independent Online
Terry Venables, the England coach, appeared satisfied with his side's performance against a team who he places in the "top quality bracket", writes Mike Rowbottom.

"That is exactly the sort of opposition we need. If we can get three or four more games like that before the European Championships I think it will be very helpful to us," he said.

He confirmed that Les Ferdinand, whom he had charged with the task of re-establishing himself in the side in his first England start in two years, had had to come off after 65 minutes because of a groin strain.

"He had it at half-time and we asked if he wanted to come off, but he said he was all right for the moment. We asked him to let us know how he was going and he gave us a sign to come off later on."

Venables thought Ferdinand's partnership with another out-and-out striker, Alan Shearer, worked reasonably well. "Portugal don't give many goals away and considering we only had one day to put together our game plan I was quite happy with it."

He shrugged off a reminder that Shearer has not added to his England total of five goals in 15 months. "Gary Lineker used to have lean spells. Alan is exactly the same as him. He is a most excellent finisher and you know he can do it."

Venables thought England were the better side at half-time. "It was just our touch in the last third of the field that let us down on occasions." In retrospect, he thought he might have decided upon his mass substitution 10 minutes earlier as he felt the midfield was becoming tired.