`Unfair' result leaves a bitter taste


The Portuguese press had only one perspective on the 1-1 result: paper Jogo blasted "Unfair" across their front page, before going on to make it perfectly clear that they saw it as home side disappointment rather than Irish invention that earned the draw.

"Portugal played badly," said Jogo. "The team was not dynamic enough to beat Ireland. There was not enough harmony between the players. Portugal knew there would be a problem and knew what to expect by the way the Irish live football. It is always a party when they play."

Another main sports paper, A Bola, ran a small headline across their front page - "Portugal had the birds in their hand . . .". But, underneath, an enormous headline was much less poetic: "So Bitter" it declared.

The goal scorer, Sergio Conceicao, seemed a little surprised at the way Ireland came back into the game to score an equaliser. "After we scored I didn't think Ireland could come back into the match," he said.

The charismatic Luis Figo was more pragmatic but also saw the drawn match as something of a defeat. "In Holland we now have to recover the points that we lost last night," he said.

Coach Antonio Oliveira was a little stunned by the end result. "I wouldn't have believed you if you had told me before the match that Ireland would come to Portugal and gain a draw," he said.

A Bola went on to chide Portugal in the inside pages. "A flash was not enough to eliminate," said their main sportswriter, following on with "The bomb Holland kicked tore apart all (Portuguese) illusions."

The Record, another all-sport publication echoed A Bola with "Bitter" as their front page headline, and "Waste" over the inside analysis. They too were more focused on Portuguese weaknesses than Irish strengths.

"Portugal lacked cohesion in midfield and did not have enough presence in the striking zone," said the paper's analyst. "The Republic of Ireland are the great winners in the second round of the Group Two matches. Portugal injected great morale into the outsiders, who now have two points from their most complicated two games."

It went on. "The draw wasted an excellent chance for Portugal to travel to Holland with four points in their baggage. Now the two favourite teams in Group Two have only two points from two games and will face each other with the same anguish."