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Friday, 01 June 2012 10:13

Portugal at the European Championships

Euro 2004 - Pride and tears

Rui CostaIt’s number four in our series charting the history of the Selecção at European Championships, and time for 2004. The tournament that gave Portugal so many reasons to feel good about itself as a country... and which ended in heartbreak.

It’s difficult to transmit in a few hundred words what happened in Portugal in the summer of 2004. A naturally conservative people threw off their inhibitions and bristled with intense pride as the nation opened its arms to joyfully embrace hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the old continent. Portuguese from all age brackets and all strata of society, even those who were not interested in sport, could not help but get caught up in the excitement of the biggest event the country had ever organised. And that’s even before we talk about the football.
As the host country, Portugal did not have to qualify. In 2003 the Portuguese Football Federation had pushed out the boat and contracted Luiz Felipe Scolari, a coach who had just led Brazil to a World Cup triumph.
Luiz Felipe ScolariA long series of friendly matches had its high points, notably the 2-1 victory over Brazil, where Deco began his magnificent career in a Portugal shirt, scoring the winning goal. But the preparation period also had its low points, the lowest of which was a humiliating 3-0 thumping by Spain in Guimarães. However, under Scolari, 21 friendly matches had returned 11 victories, seven draws and just three defeats. FC Porto had just won the Champions League. The Selecção went into the tournament in a confident frame of mind.
Portugal’s group, comprising Greece, Russia and Spain, was not considered the most difficult. But on a sun-baked day at the Estádio do Dragão, the Gods were truly Greek. Karagounis scored on seven minutes, Basinas converted a penalty six minutes after the break, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s header at the end proved meaningless. Suddenly it looked like the host of the party might be making an early exit.

Spain sent packing 

Scolari rang the changes. Against Russia Maniche and Rui Costa scored in a 2-0 win, which left everything riding on the final game against Spain at the Estádio José Alvalade. The Iberian confrontation was decided by a brilliant Nuno Gomes goal, who “refused” to play a one-two with Luís Figo, instead spinning away from his marker and drilling a well placed shot past Casillas from the edge of the box.
The country poured onto the streets to celebrate; a phenomenon that would repeat itself up to the day of the final.
The quarter-final was against England at the Estádio da Luz, in what turned out to be a match every bit as intense as the memorable meeting between the oldest allies four years earlier. Michael Owen’s early strike was cancelled out by Hélder Postiga and the game went into extra time. Rui Costa scored a wondrous goal to put the Selecção ahead, but England refused to lie down and Frank Lampard’s equaliser took the game into a penalty shootout.

Gloveless hero Ricardo

Penalty-saving specialist Ricardo was in his element. After removing his gloves to save Darius Vassell’s spot kick, the Portuguese goalkeeper took it upon himself to smack a perfect penalty into the corner of the net and send the whole of Portugal onto cloud nine, and a semi-final against Holland.

Nothing seemed able to stop Portugal in a heady and irresistible path leading to the title. Another impromptu street party was held after the Dutch were seen off 2-1. Ronaldo’s header and a stunning Maniche curler past Edwin van der Sar put Portugal in control. Not even Jorge Andrade’s unfortunate own goal could save the Dutch.

Ronaldo scores against Holland at Euro 2004
Cristiano Ronaldo powers in a header against Holland
in the Euro 2004 semi-final.
Curiously, the final match of the tournament would be the same fixture as the opening one: Portugal versus Greece. The Greeks had, bit by bit, playing ultra-defensive football, made it to the final, knocking out France and the Czech Republic en route to the final. No problem. This time it would be different.


The rest of the story is well-known. Portugal dominated, attacked non-stop, but could not find a way through. The Greeks took advantage of a corner from which Charisteas thumped a header into the net. What should have been the mother of all parties was replaced by an ocean of tears.
Portugal had shown itself to be a modern and competent country, but at the same time had fallen short of its biggest goal. The players, coaching staff and fans were inconsolable in defeat. In the record books it is written that Greece won Euro 2004.
by Tom Kundert

Related: Portugal at European Championships series

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Comments (11)
Legendary Figo
11 Saturday, 02 June 2012 12:28
I became a Portugal fan with Figo since 1998.After Figo's retirement in 2006, Portugal was not the same team.They couldn't continue to be favorites in big tournaments anymore.He was a leader for portugal.Remember his great performance against Spain as he cause them to hate him Specially pouyol and Albelda because of his dribbling and endless runnig.Remember his great performance against England as he humilitated Beckham and G.Nevil on the right flank with his great skills and that unforgottable Rui Costa strike.Rememeber his great performance against Holland in Euro 2004 semi-final so he was selected as man of the match despite not scoring,Figo's tears in Rui Costa's hug (as we saw his tears for the first and the last time)after the match which he guided his country to their first ever Euro final.In the final he was also very good but it was so sad that they conceded a goal from a corner kick from those Greece team that were playing ugly football by just defending with 11 men for the entire the match.Pauleta was disaster in that tournament and it was ver sad to see young Ronaldo failed to score from the close range as he was face to face with Greece goalkeeper.He also wasted few opportunities and in the last Portugal failed to score the equalizer...it was very sad end but Euro 2004 real champions were Portugal with their great football as they proved it laster in 2000 and further in World Cup 2006 with Legendary Figo again.Maybe not winner of the trophies due to lack of luck but certainly winner of the hearts...Portugal and I missed Figo very much!
Portugal vs Holland
10 Saturday, 02 June 2012 04:18
It still rings in my head, quoting the commentator after the 2nd goal Portugal scored "MAAAAAAAANNNNNNIIIIIIIIICHE"!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was amazing!

We really miss a player like Maniche, real tournament player.
I think we will take the Dutch again. I think they more scared than what we are.
Euro 2004
9 Friday, 01 June 2012 17:38
I became fan of Portuguese football team after that tournament.
The England Portugal encounter took my breath away. I wanted to watch the game to see Beckham play but ended up becoming a fan of Portugal.
pain and joy
8 Friday, 01 June 2012 17:24
I was in Dallas Texas and saw the game against england in a british pub, what a game I thought i was getting my ass kicked lol, then I came home and watch with my son against holland and the fever caught on, i flew in to portugal just for the weekend to see the game paid 1000 euros for my ticket, for pregame I went to the mall 4 hours before the game to find a ticket had drinnks with greeks and it was awesome, I just knew we were going to be the european champions they game was so sad comparing to other games portugal played. It was bitter sweet hoever I believe that I wacthed the closest game that Portugal will ever came to win it all.
Again went to Portugal this May 2nd for 2 months and I figuered I would see the games in Portugal but after seeing Macedonia and the terrible response by Portuguese fairweather fans combined with boos I decided to come home and see the game in my own living room with a/c and large screen TV oh yes and awesome showers, maybe I am getting to old but for the first time Portugal left much to be desired. Beer coffee and food are reasonable but even food no longer tastes the same. Having said that so will soccer I am affraid. Dont get me wrong I will be cheering and will never boo. One thing in the last month became more clear to me Portuguese abroad are 200% more Portuguese than the ones leaving in Portugal, they just dont know any better.
Forca Portugal!!!
Euro 2004
7 Friday, 01 June 2012 16:55
I was lucky enough to be in Portugal during this tournament and actually attended the final match...Nothing can compare to the excitement I felt during this tournament...I remember arriving the day of the game versus the Dutch, I watched the match at an outdoor spot in Lisbon and the noise I heard after Maniche's brilliant goal was insane (actually the noise was delayed because the station was showing a replay and no one was sure he had scored yet) but man that was a great day, the streets were a party and it went all night...prior to the game we saw 10,000 dutch fans dressed in orange making their way down the main avenue in Lisbon to the Luz, and I must say the dutch fans are very good, they are peaceful and no one bothered them, everyone was in good spirits...I think only in Portugal could another teams fans march down the street like this, we were gracious hosts to say the least...then the final came and I actually had tickets to see my home team in the final as overwhelming favorites, everything fell into place perfectly, or so it seemed...8 years later and it honestly still hurts to lose that game versus a very negative and unspectacular Greece side...this cloud will never disappear until we manage to win a major tourney...with that being said it's an experience I will never forget, the tournament brought me some of the most memorable moments and it's a must for anyone to go to a major futbol tournament, there is nothing like it...
Great Tournament!
6 Friday, 01 June 2012 14:43
This tourament was important to demonstrate that Portugal could organize a huge intl event. Congralutions to the Portuguese people for all their work!

I am not sure what more I can say as many fine comments have been stated about the team, fans, and general population. It was a shame we could not win that final game against Greece, it was a very sad day. I remember calling my dad at halftime and telling him that the tempo of the game meant trouble for Portugal.

Greece scored a dagger goal off a corner kick, I believe there was a clearance that would have been better served by kicking it out for a throw in (I have never gone back to watch the game or hi-lites). Portugal's inability to play set pieces did them in.

Overall, the positives exceeds the negative feeling from that final but it is painful to live with the loss in your gut.
5 Friday, 01 June 2012 14:41
weeks of utter depression after that defeat.
still gives me pains.
I'm not a Portuguese not even close.But i warship Portuguese nt since euro 2000.
worst 4th of July ever
4 Friday, 01 June 2012 14:10
it was one of the greatest runs I've ever seen Portugal go on but I was completely devastated after that final... it ruined the 4th of July celebrations for my friends and I...

the ONLY time in my life I've ever cried over a sporting event.
Biggest Upset in the modern era? (Greece)
3 Friday, 01 June 2012 13:17
To Greece it was destiny, no other way to explain their incredible run with very little "top tier" players, grats to them!

Rui Costa's counter attack goal against England was a thing of beauty, what a tribute to this wonderful player to be remembered for that run and strike!

The Portuguese commentator put it best; "e tempo de voltar agradecer, obrigado Rui Costa!"
Extremely Proud
2 Friday, 01 June 2012 12:18
As a Portuguese citizen, I am extremely proud of this tournament. The country put on a wonderful display, and showed how we truly are an excellent venue for world class events (we also did a tremendous job with the worlds fair).
I truly think that our Euros gave the confidence, for better or worse, to UEFA and FIFA to hold future tourneys at unexpected places/countries.

The tourney itself was incredible. So many spine tingling moments. The ups and downs of this tourney was incredible for so many countries. I'm very proud of our Seleccao, no matter the final outcome.

I was also extremely proud in how the country came together. Let me add that it was Scolari that urged everyone to drape a flag out the windows and get behind the squad. Grandmothers, moms, people who could care less about futebol suddenly stoop up and showed their pride. Getting goosebumps just thinking about it now.
We put together a wonderful party that it will long be remember by more than just Portuguese.
Portugal vs England
1 Friday, 01 June 2012 11:31
Still one of the greatest matches I have ever watched. Rui Costa strike is still the best goal I have ever seen - goosebumps.

Unfortunately the final, was a massive let down and many tears were shed that night

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