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Postiga pounces to save Portugal

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

[1] Just as he did in the UEFA EURO 2004™ quarter-final against England, Hélder Postiga came off the bench to score a vital equaliser for Portugal which kept Luiz Felipe Scolari's team level on points at the summit of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 3.

June rematch

[2] Miroslav Karhan's early penalty had put Slovakia ahead and given them hope of opening up a clear lead. But Postiga's effort ensured Portugal stayed top, with the two unbeaten teams meeting again for the return fixture on 4 June. Russia, held 1-1 in Estonia today, are still three points off the pace.

Karhan penalty

[3] Both teams started brightly but the home side carved out the first opportunity to take the lead when French referee Alain Sars pointed to the spot after Paulo Ferreira had fouled Ratislav Michalik. Karhan stepped up and sent his shot past the outstretched arm of Ricardo.

Deco the creator

[4] Portugal responded well and on eleven minutes won a free-kick which Deco sent into the area but just out of Ricardo Carvalho's reach at the far post. The FC Barcelona playmaker then found Simão Sabrosa, only for his shot to deflect wide off a Slovakian defender.

Goalkeepers in action

[5] Slovakia were shooting from distance and Ricardo was troubled in the 23rd minute, diving at full stretch to tip away a Szilárd Nemeth drive. Ricardo's opposite number, Kamil Contofalský, then did well to stop a strong Pauleta effort before the break.

Postiga arrives

[6] Pauleta was replaced by Postiga who wasted no time at all in adjusting to the pace of the game. The FC Porto striker forced a save from Contofalský with his first touch and then a minute later crossed for Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Manchester United FC winger's shot was again smothered by the goalkeeper.

Equaliser scored

[7] The visitors finally broke down the home side's resistance just after the hour mark when Postiga pounced on a Deco corner. It was nothing less than Portugal deserved - and sets up a fascinating rematch between the two sides.

Lubos Reiter of Slovakia is tackled by Jorge Andrade