Group D
Portugal 1-0 Angola

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Portugal earned a narrow 1-0 win over Angola in their opening Group D game.

The victory helped Portugal take a significant step towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time in forty years, although they will need to improve on this performance if they are to be considered genuine challengers.

Pauletta almost scored in the first minute when he was put through on goal by Simao but although the PSG striker beat the keeper from a tight angle, his shot rolled inches wide.

It took less that three minutes for Pauletta to make amends for his earlier miss. Portugal’s leading scorer of all-time, had the simple task of putting the ball into the empty net after being set up by the sprightly Figo.

At this stage, a rout looked on the cards as Angola, making their World Cup debut, appeared to be suffering from first night nerves. But gradually the African side began to come into the game and even managed to create a few half-chances.

Mateus had Angola’s first effort but his well-struck shot sailed over the bar. Moments later Akwa drew applause from the crowd when he attempted an audacious overhead kick, but his acrobatic effort flew yards wide.

At the other end Ronaldo almost doubled Portugal’s lead when his powerful header rebounded off the bar.

Angola’s best effort of the half fell to Andre whose powerful strike was pushed away at full length by Ricardo. Ricardo’s namesake in the Angolan goal produced an equally impressive stop from a Ronaldo strike on the stroke of half-time.

The second half continued in the same vein as the majority of the opening period with Portugal dominating the play. However, Angola, while not posing much of an attacking threat, did manage to restrict Scolari’s team to long range efforts.

On a rare break forward for Angola, Loco had a chance to make a name for himself but with time and space he blasted his shot high and wide.

The latter part of the second half was forgettable, with the tie littered by a series of free-kicks which prevented the game from flowing. Angola pressed forward in search of an equaliser but despite their valiant efforts they lacked a cutting edge and Ricardo was virtually a spectator for large spells of the game.

In stoppage time, Maniche almost scored a second for Portugal when his powerful drive was tipped over the bar by Ricardo.

Portugal: Ricardo, Meira, Miguel, Nuno Valente, Ricardo Carvalho, Petit, Tiago, Figo, Ronaldo, Pauleta, Simao.

Subs used: Costinha 60 (for Ronaldo) Maniche 72 (for Petit) Viana 82 (for Tiago)

Bookings: Ronaldo 26, Nuno Valente 79,

Angola: Joao Ricardo, Jamba, Kali, Loco, Delgado, Figueiredo, Macanga, Mateus, Mendonca, Ze Kalanga, Akwa.

Subs used: Mantorras 60 (for Akwa) Edson 70 (for Ze Kalanga) Miloy 80 (for Figueiredo)

Bookings: Jamba 28, Loco 45, Macanga 52

Referee: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay).

Portugal: Pauletta 5.

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