Postiga to face Denmark despite criticism

Postiga to face Denmark despite criticism

Published Jun. 12, 2012 4:54 p.m. ET

Portugal coach Paulo Bento is keeping faith with striker Helder Postiga, even though it could cost him his job.

Portugal has scored only once in its four matches this year, and Postiga didn't even manage a shot on goal in the 1-0 loss to Germany at the European Championship.

The Portuguese desperately need to get on the scoresheet in their second Group B match against Denmark on Wednesday or they risk going home sooner than they expected.

''Helder's playing tomorrow,'' Bento said Tuesday, despite mounting calls at home for the goal-poor striker to be dropped.


With strikers Hugo Almeida and Nelson Oliveira waiting in the wings, Bento's insistence on the 29-year-old Postiga could yet backfire amid accusations his dogged faith in the player is misplaced.

Postiga has made 48 international appearances and is at his third straight European Championship, but he was left out of Portugal's 2010 World Cup squad by previous coach Carlos Queiroz.

He exited Sporting Lisbon early last season, moving to Zaragoza in Spain after failing to score in his first five Portuguese league matches.

Portugal has plenty of talent but, crucially, its blunt attack has been unable to breach opposition defenses and will be hard-pressed to find a way past the tight Danish back line.

Bento praised Postiga's work rate and willingness to help out with defensive duties.

''Any player I pick, in whatever position, it is because I am sure they will give their all for the national team,'' Bento said, adding that Postiga had been ''extraordinary'' against Germany.

Postiga acknowledged that he needs to refind his touch in front of goal.

''We have to improve our finishing,'' Postiga said. ''We've been creating plenty of chances. The goals will end up coming.''

Postiga and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only two surviving members of Portugal's Euro 2004 squad. Most memorably, his 83rd-minute equalizer against England in that tournament sent the quarterfinal match into extra time and then a penalty shootout that Portugal won on its way to the final.

Postiga was the second highest scorer in Portugal's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with five goals, two fewer than Ronaldo.