Though Portugal lost just one game in qualifying Group A – the only group with eight teams – they had to endure a nervous finale before clinching their place in the finals as runners-up to Poland, who finished with 28 points to Portugal’s 27.
After clinging on for a 1-1 draw with Finland with ten men in their opening game, Portugal won 3-0 against Azerbaijan but then lost 2-1 in Poland. Progress was patchy thereafter, despite winger Cristiano Ronaldo contributing eight goals. Portugal dropped some unexpected points, drawing 1-1 home and away against Serbia, 2-2 at home against Poland and — most surprisingly — 1-1 away in Armenia.
An incident following the 1-1 home draw with Serbia led coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to be banned from the touchline for three games, but Portugal won all three matches with his assistant Flávio Teixeira in charge, meaning they needed only to avoid defeat in their final game against Finland in Porto to progress. With Roy Hodgson’s Finland knowing a win would likely see them qualify in Portugal’s place, it was a tense affair, but a 0-0 draw sufficed for the home side. However, Scolari admitted: “I know we have to improve for the finals.”
Going into the tournament in Austria and Switzerland, Portugal had played 108 matches in 13 European Championships (qualifying for only five), winning 58, drawing 26 and losing 24 with 183 goals scored and 98 conceded. They first qualified for the European Championship in 1984, when they were knocked out in the semi-finals. Portugal next qualified for Euro 1996 in England, and were eliminated at the quarter-final stage. In 2000 they again made the semis before coming closest to wining the trophy last time round. As the host nation for Euro 2004, Portugal advanced to the final, but lost to Greece, who had also defeated them in the tournament’s opening game, 2-1.
Portugal Euro 2008 Squad
Head coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
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