Portugal Beats Former Colony

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Angola 0-1 Portugal Portugal got the better of former colony Angola to move level on points with Mexico at the top of Group D. Pedro Pauleta, who almost scored after just 12 seconds, gave Portugal the lead on five minutes with a neat shot after Luis Figo’s run and cross. Cristiano Ronaldo hit the bar with a thumping header for Portugal, though Angola finished the half strongly. The second half never quite lived up to the first half’s promise though Pauleta and Maniche went close for Portugal. Figo has spent most of international career patrolling the right flank for country, but at the age of 33 he is now deployed in a more central role, with Simao Sabrosa and Ronaldo doing the running for him. Angola never quite got to grips with the freedom Portugal allowed Figo, who also provided a threat from set-pieces. It was from a Figo corner that Ronaldo hit the bar with a powerful header on 35 minutes. Just before the interval Ronaldo drew a fine save from Angola goalkeeper Joao Ricardo with a powerful shot. On the hour Ronaldo was taken off by coach Luis Felipe Scolari, a decision that clearly angered the Manchester United forward. Pauleta, who is Portugal’s record goalscorer, might have given the European side the lead with the game barely 12 seconds old. Sabrosa’s pass released the Paris St Germain striker whose shot beat Joao Ricardo only to go the wrong side of the post. Figo might be in the twilight of his career, but Portugal’s captain still possesses an impressive burst of speed as he showed in creating the opening goal. He sprinted past the leaden-footed Jamba before crossing for Pauleta, who sent a left-footed shot past Ricardo. Making their World Cup debut, Angola must have feared the worst after that Pauleta goal, particularly as they had lost 6-0 and 5-1 in their two previous meetings with Portugal. But to their immense credit Angola refused to be overawed and went on the offensive. Fabrice Akwa tried a couple of ambitious bicycle kicks, while Antonio Mendonca and Andre Mateus had long-range shots. Three minutes before the interval another Angola shot, this time from Andre Macanga, drew a fine save from Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo. The second half had a subdued opening, though Pauleta tried to reinvigorate Portugal with an ambitious curling shot and then a clever pass that set up a Tiago effort. Scolari replaced Ronaldo with the more defensive Costinha as Portugal’s coach attempted to close down the midfield, testament to the way Angola had rattled their European opponents. While Portugal sought to protect their lead, Angola replaced Akwa with Pedro Mantorras, but the Benfica forward was unable to change the course of the game. Meanwhile yesterday Substitute Tim Cahill’s late double inspired Australia to an historic victory over Japan in Kaiserslautern. Japan took the lead when Socceroos keeper Mark Schwarzer appeared to be impeded as Shunsuke Nakamura’s intended cross sailed over his head. But Cahill drilled in a loose ball from close range on 84 minutes and lashed home from 18 yards soon after. John Aloisi then sealed a first World Cup finals victory for Australia with a well-placed shot in injury time. Japan’s Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was the first goalkeeper called into action, forced into a double save from Mark Viduka. The Middlesbrough striker broke clear to first fire in a right-foot shot from a narrow angle, and then a left-foot follow-up effort which was parried for a corner. Australia fell behind in circumstances which were at best soft, and at worst controversial. Nakamura drifted in a hopeful ball and Schwarzer seemed to be impeded by Takashi Fukunishi, but Egyptian referee Essam Abdel Fatah waved away Australian protests. Kewell almost found a quick response with a curling shot which grazed the top of the bar. Viduka was proving a handful for the Japanese defence and a foul on the Middlesbrough striker set up a chance forMarco Bresciano, who almost embarrassed Kawaguchi as he went for goal with the keeper expecting a cross. Australia coach Guus Hiddink threw on Cahill and Josh Kennedy, and the big striker’s height gave the Japanese defence a different set of problems as the Socceroos took a more direct route. Kennedy was fouled on the edge of the box by Teruyuki Moniwa to give Viduka the chance to power in a free-kick, drawing a great save from Kawaguchi. But the keeper was at fault as Cahill grabbed a lifeline for Australia. Kawaguchi failed to claim Lucas Neill’s long throw and Cahill ended a scramble in emphatic fashion, firing home Australia’s first World Cup finals goal from close range. The Everto midfielder was at the heart of the action and escaped conceding a penalty when he clearly clipped Fukunishi as he headed for goal. But five minutes after levelling, Cahill found space on the edge of the box to put his side ahead with a thumping shot off the inside of the post. Australia were fired up and they iced the cake when another substitute, Aloisi, finished coolly after bursting through the middle of the Japanese defence.