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Greece stunned Portugal in the opening game of Euro 2004 by recording an unlikely 2-1 victory over the host nation.

The victory was the first win for Greece in the finals of a major championship and throws doubt on Portugal’s ability to reach the quarter-finals.

Goals from Karagounis and Basinas from the penalty spot gave the Greeks a two-goal lead which they rarely looked like surrendering. Despite mounting pressure, an organised Greek defence kept Portugal at bay and the hosts only had a late consolation goal from substitute Cristiano Ronaldo to show for their territorial dominance.

This was Portugal’s first competitive match since the 2002 World Cup finals and in the early skirmishes the hosts looked rusty, unable to develop any attacking momentum against organied opponents.

It took Greece just six minutes to open the scoring. Ferreira, the Chelsea-bound full-back gave the ball away in his own half to Karagounis. The Inter midfielder advanced on goal unopposed and fired a 23-yard shot past the helpless Ricardo.

Portugal were stunned and seemed unable to mount a co-ordinated response to the setback. Haristeas and Vryzas were proving to be a handful for the Portuguese defence and Vryzas could have doubled the lead on 15 minutes after bursting into the box, but his shot was sliced wide.

Costinha came close for Portugal when his side-footed effort curled wide and Rui Costa headed wide when picked out by Ferreira, but despite dominating possession, Scolari’s men rarely looked like levelling.

Scolari responded to the situation by introducing two substitutes; Deco for the ineffective Rui Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo for Simao.

Ronaldo’s first meaningful contribution was one he will wish to forget. Tracking back to cover a rare foray forward by Greece, the 19-year-old brought down Seitaridis for a penalty. Basinas converted from the spot.

Scolari responded by introducing a third attacker in Nuno Gomes, but the goal threat remained minimal. On a number of occasions, Ronaldo skipper past his marker but there was no one on hand to meet his crosses.

The Manchester United man always looked Portugal’s most dangerous attacker and he came close to reducing the arrears on 83 minutes but his goal bound shot was deflected inches wide. The youngster made amends in stoppage time when he headed home a corner from the otherwise disappointing Figo, but by then the goal amounted to little more than a consolation.

The result leaves Greece in pole position to qualify, while for the hosts, an embarrassing, premature exit looms.

Group A

Portugal 1-2 Greece

Scorers:

– Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo 90+3
– Greece – Giorgos Karagounis 7, Angelos Basinas 51pen

Halftime: 0-1
Attendance: 48,761

Teams:

Portugal: 1-Ricardo; 2-Paulo Ferreira, 4-Jorge Andrade, 5-Fernando Couto (captain), 3-Rui Jorge; 6-Costinha (21-Nuno Gomes 66), 18-Maniche, 7-Luis Figo, 10-Rui Costa (20-Deco 46); 9-Pauleta, 11-Simao Sabrosa (17-Cristiano Ronaldo 46).

Greece: 1-Antonis Nikopolidis; 14-Takis Fyssas, 5-Traianos Dellas, 19-Michalis Kapsis, 2-Yourkas Seitaridis; 20-Giorgos Karagounis (21-Costas Katsouranis 46), 6-Angelos Basinas, 7-Theodoros Zagorakis (captain), 8-Stelios Giannakopoulos (11-Demis Nikolaidis 68); 9-Angelos Haristeas (23-Vassilis Lakis 74), 15-Zisis Vryzas

Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy)

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