Greece are the European champions after defeating the hosts and favourites Portugal in Lisbon.
The 1-0 win, which must be regarded as one of the biggest shocks in the history of the game, came courtesy of a Angelos Haristeas header 10 minutes into the second half of an absorbing final.
The victory was a triumph for coach Greece’s German-born coach Otto Rehhagel, who with limited resources at his disposal, has created a formidable defensive outfit, capable of outwitting Europe’s finest. Given their two wins over Portugal, combined with victories over France and the Czech Republic, surely no one could begrude Greece their remarkable success. It should not be forgotten that prior to Euro 2004, Greece had played six games at the finals of a major championship, losing five and drawing on the other occasion.
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was generous in defeat, warmly applauding the Greeks on the final whistle. Though disappointed to be unable to emulate his achievement of two years ago when he led Brazil to World Cup glory, Scolari would surely concede that Greece deserved their win.
Greece showed one change from the side which beat the Czech Republic in the semi-final, with Giannakopoulos coming in for the suspended Karagounis. Portugal were unchanged with the out-of-form Pauletta preferred up front to Nuno Gomes.
After a scrappy opening in which neither side established any control, Miguel had the first chance of the night when he burst into the penalty area on 13 minutes, but his right-foot effort was well saved by Nikopolidis. Migeul was proving to be a handful down the right. With Ronaldo finding it difficult to extricate himself from his marker, the space existed for the full-back to roam free on the overlap. Unfortunately, a clash with Giannakopoulos terminated his involvement in the game just after the half hour mark.
Although Portugal enjoyed the bulk of the possession, it was not all one-way traffic, and with Greece prepared to commit men forward when they had possession, Rehhagel’s side looking dangerous on the break. Indeed, the best move of the half stemmed from a neat exchange of passes on the edge of the Portuguese penalty area, only for Charisteas to be denied by the alert Ricardo.
At the other end, Portugal continued to probe, but clear cut chances were few and far between. Maniche, who was a busy presence in the centre of the pitch, came close midway through the half when a corner kick fell to him on the edge of the area, but his volley went inches wide.
As the half progressed, Greece, looked increasingly confident. Seitaridis had little trouble subduing the sporadic threats from Figo down Portugal’s left flank, Fyssas did a similar job on Ronaldo, while Deco, the creative fulcrum of Scolari’s team, was struggling to impose himself on the game.
After the break Portugal maintained the pressure, but other than a theatrical dive from the disappointing Deco, there was little to set the pulse racing.
On 56 minutes, Greece earned their first corner of the match. Basinas, produced an outswinging cross and with Ricardo going walkabout, Charisteas rose to head into the empty net.
Scolari introduced Rui Costa, playing his final match for Portugal, and the substitute almost made an immediate impact when his mazy run carried him into the penalty area, but again the final ball from the hosts was disappointing.
Portugal began to dominate possession but Greece, although defending deeper than they had in the first half, seemed content to absorb the pressure. Scolari’s team forced a succession of corners and free-kicks but the delivery from Deco and Figo was woeful and whenever the Greeks looked like losing their composure, the outstanding Dellas was usually on hand to steady the ship.
With time running out, Portugal continued their siege of the Greek goal. Ronaldo was put through by Rui Costa but the youngster blazed over with only the keeper to beat. Figo and Carvalho also went close but the dogged Greek defence, which had not conceded a goal in the knock out stages, held firm to record a historic win.
The Greeks made football history today,” Rehhagel said afterward.
“It’s a sensation. It was an unusual achievement for Greek football and especially for European football.
“The team played great football. We took advantage of our chances. The opponent was technically better than us.”
Scolari meanwhile, asked for fogiveness from the Portuguese public.
“We ask forgiveness from all the Portuguese because we weren’t able to achieve the goal that we all wanted,” said Scolari.
“It’s hard. It’s hard to lose this way…to play a game this way, without goals.
“They won defensively. They won because they knew how to play in that way.”
Portugal 0-1 Greece
Greece: Angelos Haristeas 57
Portugal: 1-Ricardo; 13-Miguel (2-Paulo Ferreira 43), 16-Ricardo Carvalho, 4-Jorge Andrade, 14-Nuno Valente; 6-Costinha (10-Rui Costa 60), 18-Maniche, 20-Deco, 7-Luis Figo (captain), 17-Cristiano Ronaldo; 9-Pauleta (21-Nuno Gomes 74)
Greece: 1-Antonis Nikopolidis; 2-Yourkas Seitaridis, 19-Michalis Kapsis, 5-Traianos Dellas 14-Takis Fyssas; 8-Stelios Giannakopoulos (3-Stelios Venetidis 76), 7-Theodoros Zagorakis (captain), 6-Angelos Basinas, 21-Costas Katsouranis; 15-Zisis Vryzas (22-Dimitrios Papadopoulos 81), 9-Angelos Haristeas
Referee: Markus Merk (Germany)