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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Euro2008 Qualifying, Serbia 1-1 Portugal

Portugal thwarted by defiant Serbia
Serbia and Portugal fought out a 1-1 draw in a highly entertaining Euro 2008 Group A qualifier on Wednesday. Tiago fired Portugal into a fifth-minute lead and Bosko Jankovic put the Serbs back on level terms in the 37th minute to the delight of a raucous 51,000 home crowd.

Both sides missed plenty of chances in a pulsating match whose outcome left them level on 11 points from six matches along with Finland, who suffered a 1-0 setback at Azerbaijan earlier on Wednesday. All three are five points behind group leaders Poland. Portugal took the lead with their first meaningful venture into the Serbian half when Tiago unleashed a swerving shot from 20 metres that sailed over keeper Vladimir Stojkovic who was caught out of position.

It took 18 minutes for Serbia to test Portugal No1 Ricardo, who kept out Duško Tošić's ten-metre strike, but Portugal again ought to have doubled their advantage when Nuno Gomes headed Simão's corner over from five metres. At the other end, Nemanja Vidić's physical presence was causing the Portugal defence problems and the Manchester United FC defender nodded wide from close range shortly before the half-hour.

The hosts dragged themselves level, though, when Dejan Stanković's corner was headed home by Janković eight minutes before the break. Nuno Gomes almost replied instantly yet his attempt flashed wide. Winger Cristiano Ronaldo then came close to getting on the scoresheet only for his shot to be superbly blocked by Igor Duljal on the stroke of half-time. Portugal resumed the second half in control with João Moutinho's strike demanding a fantastic save from Stojković. The latter excelled again on 64 minutes to frustrate Tiago, before the keeper completed a fine individual display by repelling Ronaldo's powerful free-kick late on.

Euro2008 Qualifying, Serbia 1-1 Portugal highlights video: