LISBON - Portugal striker Helder Postiga
struck early in the second half to secure a 1-0 home win against
a cautious Norway side on Saturday to leave his team top of Euro
2012 qualifying Group H on goal difference.
Postiga sidefooted home in the 53rd minute from a Nani cross
to put Portugal ahead of Denmark, who won 2-0 in Iceland, and
Norway with all three teams on 10 points from five games.
"It was a good game, though not a great one. Our win cannot
be questioned," Portugal coach Paulo Bento told reporters.
Norway had two shots in the first five minutes but Portugal
soon took control with Raul Meireles sending a drive wide after
seven minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo forcing Rune Jarstein to tip
away a trademark dipping free-kick moments later.
The Scandinavians were struggling but managed to give
Portugal another scare after 16 minutes when Bjorn Riise led a
counter-attack and fed Erik Huseklepp, who fired a low shot that
Eduardo had to stretch to palm away.
"From the beginning, we wanted to control them and we did
this even though we could not always check our opponents'
counter attacks," Bento said.
With the lively Ronaldo combining with Fabio Coentrao on the
left, Portugal had plenty of possession to show off their
trickery but the final pass often failed to reach striker
Postiga, who struggled to find room in the box.
Norway were quick to break with a direct approach whenever
they found some breathing space and midfielder Morten Pedersen
missed a golden chance to give them the lead by blasting over
the bar after a poor clearance by Meireles in the 24th minute.
Ronaldo and Coentrao combined five minutes before halft-ime
to create a smooth move with the busy left-back crossing for his
captain to leap above the tall Norwegian defence but the
forward's header went straight to the keeper.
Postiga finally made space on the edge of the box and got
his shot in, forcing Jarstein to touch the ball away for a
corner three minutes after the break, and a Nani drive was just
wide moments later as Portugal tried to break the deadlock.
The pair ensured Portugal did just that soon afterwards when
the winger weaved in a cross from the right for the pacy Postiga
who stretched to sidefoot the ball into the net.
"It's a move we frequently practice in training, a low cross
for a shot from the front post. It allowed us to achieve our
objective, which was to go top," Postiga told reporters.
Portugal could not maintain their momentum after scoring and
the game petered out in the latter stages with the cautious
Norwegians failing to produce the threat of an equaliser.
The Portuguese had a disappointing start to the qualifying
campaign but have recovered under Bento, who took over after
Carlos Queiroz was sacked in September.
The side have won the three qualifiers they have played
under Bento, and have played well in friendlies, especially the
4-0 thumping of world champions Spain in November.
"We have built an identity for this team, and that comes
from stability," the coach said.
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010