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Portugal are through to the final of a major championship for the first time in their history after they beat Holland 2-1 in Lisbon.

Goals from Ronaldo and Maniche were enough to send Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men through to Sunday’s final, and despite some anxious moments after Andrade put through his own net, the hosts thoroughly deserved their victory.

After a cagey opening, Portugal began to take control. Figo, whose participation in this match was in doubt following his substitution against England in the quarter-final, was playing like a man with a point to prove.

On eight minutes the Real Madrid winger burst from his own half before delivering a teasing cross which just eluded Pauletta.

Figo was again prominent on 26 minute when he tore down the left before setting up Ronaldo, but Bouma did well to block the shot.

From the resulting corner, Portugal scored the goal their superiority merited. Deco crossed for Ronaldo who took advantage of some woeful Dutch marking to head home unopposed.

Portugal should have extended their lead on 34 minutes when Maniche collected from his Porto team mate Deco and set up Pauletta, but the striker’s effort was parried to safety by van der Saar.

Figo remained a threat on both flanks and on 40 minutes he offered a glimpse of why he was once voted World Footballer of the Year when he skipped past Van Bronckhorst and crashed a left foot shot against the upright.

Holland were struggling to get into the game and apart from a couple of dangerous crosses from Davids, there was little to trouble the Portuguese defence. Van Nistelrooy did have the ball in the back of the net shortly before half time but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Meanwhile, Portugal were playing with pace and fluency, helped in no small part by the desire of referee Anders Frisk to see the game flow, and the chief concern for Scolari was that his team had not translated their dominance into something more tangible.

After the break Dutch coach Dick Advocaat introduced a second striker, Roy Makaay for Marc Overmars. Patrick Kluivert, Holland’s all-time leading scorer, was left kicking his heels on the bench, perhaps wondering why he bothered to travel to Portugal in the first place.

Portugal had a wonderful opportunity to double their lead shortly after the break when the Dutch defence went to sleep allowing Pauletta a free run on goal but the striker fired the ball straight at van der Saar.

Fortunately, for Pauletta, he did not have long to dwell upon his miss. Four minutes later, Maniche received a short corner, advanced on goal before unleashing an unstoppable shot past van der Saar.

Holland, who had just brought on van der Vaart in an attempt to introduce some artistry into their largely prosaic play, looked dead and buried. However, they received a lifeline four minutes later when Andrade, aware of the presence of Van Nistelrooy, looped the ball over Ricardo and into the net.

The goal gave Holland renewed belief and with Van Hooijdonk on for Robben, an aerial bombardment ensued. It was a far cry from the Total Football with which Holland are perpetually associate, but despite some nervy moments, the Portuguese defence coped admirably with the physical challenge.

The hosts had several chances to extend their lead as Holland abandoned defence in pursuit of the equaliser. However, van der Saar, unlike some of his team mates, was proving to be an immovable barrier for Holland.

The final whistle was greeted by an outpouring of joy from the delirious home supporters. They go on to Sunday’s final where they will meet either Greece or the Czech Republic. For Scolari, an historic double, which three weeks ago looked so unlikely, could now become a reality.

Semi final

Portugal 2-1 Holland

Scorers:

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo 26, Maniche 58
Holland: Jorge Andrade 63og

Halftime: 1-0

Teams:

Portugal:1-Ricardo; 13-Miguel, 16-Ricardo Carvalho, 4-Jorge Andrade, 14-Nuno Valente; 6-Costinha, 18-Maniche (5-Fernando Couto 87), 20-Deco, 7-Luis Figo, 17-Cristiano Ronaldo (8-Armando Petit 68); 9-Pauleta (21-Nuno Gomes 75)

Holland: 1-Edwin van der Sar; 2-Michael Reiziger, 4-Wilfred Bouma (11-Rafael van der Vaart 56), 3-Jaap Stam, 5-Giovanni van Bronckhorst; 20-Clarence Seedorf, 8-Edgar Davids, 6-Philip Cocu; 16-Marc Overmars (12-Roy Makaay 46), 10-Ruud van Nistelrooy, 19-Arjen Robben (17-Pierre van Hooijdonk 81)

Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)

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