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DATELINE WORLD CUP 2002/PORTUGAL

Stunning Result Leaves Fans Seeking Answers

June 06, 2002

Portugal's prime minister urged the country not to lose faith in the national soccer team after Wednesday's stunning 3-2 defeat to the United States in the World Cup.

"It's at these moments that great teams show what fiber they're made of," Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso said.

The U.S. win over Portugal, fifth in FIFA's world rankings, hit hard in this soccer-mad nation.

"It should have been an easy win," said Armando Lopes, 39, a stereo equipment store owner. "We took it for granted we would easily go through to the next round. Now it looks like we might be out after three games."

Said Lopes' customer, Paulo Teixeira, a 35-year-old garage mechanic: "I'm so sad. And I still don't believe it."

Others were more direct about what they thought would happen.

Said photographer Manuel Gomes da Costa: "I thought we would smash the Americans."

Business leaders had appealed to workers not to take time off to watch the match, which kicked off at midmorning local time. But the appeal had little effect based on the light traffic on Lisbon's normally busy roads.

National sports daily A Bola said on its Web site that Portugal entered the World Cup with its "pe esquerdo"--its "left foot"--a Portuguese idiom for when something goes wrong.

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Compiled by Jim Barrero

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