Portugal’s Postiga out of Euro semis

Portugal striker Helder Postiga will miss next Wednesday’s European Championship semifinal against France or Spain after picking up a right thigh injury.

Postiga was taken off the pitch on a stretcher in the first half of Portugal’s 1-0 quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic on Thursday.

The Portuguese Football Federation said on its website Friday that Postiga sustained an ”injury to the posterior region of the right thigh” and will be out for the semifinals in Donetsk, Ukraine.

The 29-year-old forward, who was Portugal’s second-highest scorer in Euro 2012 qualifying with five goals, is along with Cristiano Ronaldo the only two surviving members of Portugal’s Euro 2004 squad.

He has scored 20 goals in 53 national team appearances, the most notable being an 83rd-minute equalizer against England in the 2004 tournament to send the quarterfinal match into extra time and then a penalty shootout that Portugal won on its way to the final.

But he has failed to impress this year, prompting coach Paulo Bento to publicly back Postiga in the face of mounting calls back home to drop him from the starting 11 after the striker failed to even register a shot in Portugal’s opening 1-0 loss to Germany.

Postiga repaid the coach for his faith, scoring in Portugal’s 3-2 win over Denmark in the group stage, although team captain Cristiano Ronaldo has taken over the goalscoring duties since then.

Bento could replace Postiga with either Hugo Almeida or 20-year-old Nelson Oliveira.

Almeida is the more experienced player, with 15 goals in 43 national team appearances, and Bento turned to him after Postiga went down against the Czechs. The 20-year-old Oliveira, on the other hand, has just six caps to his name.

Bento praised Almeida’s performance against the Czechs, saying he came on ”almost without a warm-up, and showed his complete commitment in the game, as well as his qualities. He showed us that we can rely on him.”