Postiga lifts Portugal past Norway, into first
A second-half goal from Helder Postiga gave Portugal a 1-0 win
over Norway in a 2012 European Championship qualifier and tied them
together at the top of Group H on Saturday.
Postiga pounced at the front post to poke in a Nani cross in the
53rd minute as Portugal took almost an hour to break down the
visitor’s resilient defense.
Both teams and Denmark are tied atop the group, but Portugal
leads on points difference with three qualifying matches to go.
Portugal dictated the run of play but had a hard time breaking
through Norway’s defense, and looked to be running out of patience
before Postiga stuck his leg out.
Cristiano Ronaldo made little impression as the Portuguese
promised more than they delivered.
The Portuguese are fighting back from a poor start to their
qualifying campaign when they took just one point from their first
Under coach Paulo Bento, who replaced Carlos Queiroz last
September, Portugal has built a 5-1-1 record.
”This game was no less harder than we’d expected,” Bento said.
”We managed to take control and keep control.”
Ronaldo, in a subdued performance, lined up for a 10th-minute
free kick and forced goalkeeper Rune Jarstein to leap to his right
to push the ball wide. Ronaldo rose above the Norwegian defense
five minutes before halftime but headed straight at the keeper from
short range in his only other serious threat.
Norway was in defensive mood and tried to break the deadlock
with counterattacks, though it ran out of options in the second
Erik Huseklepp, who got the only goal in Norway’s 1-0 win over
Portugal in Oslo last September, forced goalkeeper Eduardo to dive
sharply to his right to keep the ball out in the 17th. Morten Gamst
Pedersen should have produced more when he burst down the right for
a shot in the 24th.
Postiga forced Jarstein to dive low to his right to keep out a
shot that was heading into the corner just after the restart.
The goal spurred the Portuguese, and Carlos Martins came close
with a long-range chance five minutes later.
Portugal: Eduardo; Joao Pereira (Silvio, 63), Bruno Alves, Pepe,
Fabio Coentrao; Carlos Martins (Ruben Micael, 69), Raul Meireles,
Joao Moutinho; Nani (Silvestre Varela, 86), Helder Postiga,
Norway: Rune Jarstein; Tom Hogli, Brede Hangeland, Vadim
Demidov, John Arrne Riise; Bjorn Helge Riise, Henning Hauger,
Christian Grindheim, Morten Gamst Pedersen; Erik Huseklepp (Daniel
Braaten, 74), John Carew (Mohammed Abdellaoue, 60).