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EUROPEAN SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP

Greece Shocks Host Portugal

June 13, 2004|From Associated Press

In the biggest opening-game upset in European championship history, Greece defeated host Portugal, 2-1, Saturday at Porto to mark the start of the three-week soccer showcase.

Georgios Karagounis and Angelis Basinas scored for Greece, which recorded its first victory in a major championship. This was the first time that the host lost the opener since the group format was introduced in 1984.

"We started too nervous, we got more shots on goal in the second half but we couldn't turn it round," Portugal Coach Luis Felipe Scolari said.

Karagounis put the Greeks ahead in the seventh minute to stun the home fans at the Dragao Stadium, home of Champions League winner FC Porto.

"We each gave the best we could and this great victory came," Karagounis said. "This is a great day for us, Greek soccer and the Greek people."

Basinas scored the second goal on a penalty kick six minutes into the second half after Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo brought down Giourka Seitaridis in the box.

Ronaldo scored the lone Portuguese goal in the third minute of injury time when he headed home a corner kick by Luis Figo.

Portugal, which qualified automatically as the host, next plays Russia on Wednesday. But it still has to face Spain in its final Group A game and could be eliminated in the first round.

In Athens, many celebrated the victory by blaring car horns or throwing firecrackers.

"It was a dreamlike start for our team," Greek midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos said.

Greek Premier Costas Caramanlis sent his congratulations to the team.

"With its historic victory tonight, our national team won the respect of European fans and filled every Greek with emotion," he said.

*

Spain 1, Russia 0 -- Juan Carlos Valeron scored seconds after coming on as a second-half substitute to lead Spain to the victory in a Group A match at Faro, Portugal.

Spain dominated in the first half, but failed to break through despite a half-dozen threatening crosses into the box.

Spanish Coach Inaki Saez changed his striker mix early in the second half, bringing in Valeron for Fernando Morientes.

Valeron wasted little time, scoring almost instantly on a left-footed shot from eight yards off a cross from Carles Puyol in the 60th minute.

Spain is trying to get rid of its underachiever tag at major events, and the team had overwhelming support with Spanish fans from just across the border guaranteeing the 28,182 sellout on Portugal's Algarve coast.

Spain has only once won its opening match in the European championship, in 1988.

*

In Group B games today, Switzerland plays Croatia at Leiria, and England plays France at Lisbon.

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