Portugal advance on beating Iran 2-0
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Portugal advance on beating Iran 2-0

Deco and Ronaldo's goals gave them a 6-point lead and a place in 2nd round. Schedule | Teams | Results | Photos | Games

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 21:29 IST

Portugal advanced to the second round of the World Cup for the first time in 40 years by beating Iran 2-0 on Saturday in Group D.

Deco scored with a shot from outside the area in the 63rd minute and Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot in the 80th. Portugal now has six points and is assured of a place in the next round.

The European team had beaten Angola 1-0 in its opening match. Iran remained winless, having lost their opener to Mexico 3-1, and has been eliminated.

"This is a historic moment for Portugal, the first time in 40 years it has come so far. We're elated," Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "We played better than against Angola. We showed some of our skill today."

Portugal will next face Mexico, with a draw enough to take first place in the group.

"We still want to beat Mexico to ensure first place in the group," Scolari said.

Portugal last reached the second phase of a World Cup tournament in 1966, when Eusebio led it to a third-place finish.

However, as against Angola, the Portuguese failed to find their usual sparkle and allowed their opponents back into the match after a bright start.

The came the two second-half goals, both set up by Luis Figo. In an otherwise disappointing display in his 122nd appearance, the Portugal captain broke down the left flank and passed inside for unmarked Deco to fire home. Deco had missed the opener with a leg muscle strain.

On another break down the left, Yahya Golmohammadi brought down Figo in the area for the penalty.

Pauleta almost stretched Portugal's winning margin in the final minute of regular time when he went face-to-face with Mirzapour but the goalkeeper stretched out his right leg and knocked the ball wide.

Scolari made three midfield changes after his team failed to impress against Angola. Francisco Costinha, Maniche and Deco came in for Armando Petit, Tiago and Simao Sabrosa.

Ronaldo was also included, even though he skipped two training sessions last week due to muscle fatigue.

Iran fielded an offensive team in pursuit of its first win in Germany, though it left top striker Ali Daei out of its starting lineup, said to be due to a back strain.

The match featured plenty of chances for the Portuguese team and occasional goalmouth threats from Iran.

Deco forced Ebrahim Mirzapour into a superb reflex save from close range in the 12th minute, the goalkeeper palming the ball away with his outstretched right hand.

Then Ricardo Carvalho's header from Figo's corner kick went wide. Ronaldo started slowly but alarmed the Iranian defense twice in two minutes on the half-hour.

The winger had a header chested off the line by Hossein Kaabi and then cut past three defenders from the right and hit a powerful shot wide of the post.

Miguel broke down the right and produced a fierce shot that hit the Iran goalkeeper and went around the post.

But the Portuguese weren't perfect as Iran successfully closed down playmakers Deco and Figo for long periods.

Mehrzad Madanchi found space on the left to meet a long downfield pass but misplayed his shot in the 14th. Javad Nekounam found a gap in the central defense and looked clear for a shot but Figo chased back to end the threat.

Shortly after the restart, Ronaldo once again tested Mirzapour, firing a low shot from the left flank and forcing the goalkeeper to dive sharply to his right.

Portugal, however, again surrendered the initiative with some scrappy soccer.

First Published: Jun 17, 2006 21:29 IST