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Portugal playoff bound

Portugal became the first team to reach the European Championship quarter-finals, beating the Czech Republic 3-1 Wednesday and then advancing after Turkey defeated Switzerland 2-1.


Portugal became the first team to reach the European Championship quarter-finals, beating the Czech Republic 3-1 Wednesday and then advancing after Turkey defeated Switzerland 2-1.

Portugal, which played in the Euro 2004 final and also made the World Cup semifinals two years ago, was the favourite in Group A and lived up to that label by qualifying for the knockout rounds with one game to spare.

Cristiano Ronaldo, as expected, was the star for the Portuguese team, scoring one goal and setting up another in Geneva. The Manchester United winger scored his first for the national team since October in the 63rd minute to give his team a 2-1 lead.

"It was very difficult to penetrate the defence," Ronaldo said. "If we're carrying on playing like this as a unit, we've got great chances."

On Thursday, Germany and Croatia have a chance to join Portugal in the quarter-finals with a win from their match in Klagenfurt, Austria. Poland faces co-host Austria in Vienna in the other Group B match.

Deco gave Portugal the lead in the eighth minute, scoring from close range after Ronaldo and Nuno Gomes exchanged passes in the area. Libor Sionko equalized in the 17th, but Ronaldo put his team ahead in the second half and Ricardo Quaresma tapped in from close range in injury time.

"We are among the best eight squads in Europe," said Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was announced as the next Chelsea manager shortly after the match. "Of course, we want more than that."

With both teams coming off wins in their openers, Portugal's impressive ball movement and free-flowing style gave them the edge throughout the match.

"They were able to make perfect transition from defence into offence," Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner said.

The Czechs play Turkey on Sunday in Geneva, and the winner would join Portugal in the quarter-finals. Switzerland faces Portugal in the other group match, which has little at stake since the Portuguese have already clinched first place in the group.

Switzerland became only the second European Championship team to be eliminated from the tournament without reaching the last four, joining Euro 2000 co-host Belgium.

The Swiss played impressive football throughout a downpour in the first half, stringing together passes and keeping the ball off the soaked field and in the air as much as possible. But in injury time, Arda Turan sent a right-footed shot from outside the area that deflected in off Switzerland defender Patrick Mueller to give the Turks the win.

"Of course, the disappointment is huge," Switzerland coach Koebi Kuhn said. "But I can't blame it on any player or anyone else. We lost twice unluckily."

Hakin Yakin had given the hosts the lead in the 32nd, tapping in a pass across the front of goal that got stuck in a puddle. The downpour ceased in the second half, and so did most of Switzerland's creativity. Instead, it was the Turks that started to dominate, and Semih Senturk equalized in the 57th by heading in a cross from Nihat Kahveci.

"It's not easy to come back from a goal down at the European Championship, considering we hit the woodwork once," Turkey coach Fatih Terim said. "But we fought a lot in the second half and we created many opportunities. God willing, we will win against Czech Republic and reach the next round."

Sweden won its opening Euro 2008 match Tuesday, but not everyone was cheerful at the team's training session Wednesday in Lugano, Switzerland.

Striker Markus Rosenberg reacted angrily to a tough challenge from Kim Kallstrom as the substitutes played a match of four on four, and substitute goalkeeper Rami Shaaban had to hold Rosenberg to calm him down.

"It was nothing serious," the Werder Bremen striker said. "It was a normal collision and some talk afterward. It's forgotten now."