Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Francisco Conceicao scores in stoppage time to get Portugal off to winning start

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Portugal substitute Francisco Conceicao scored in stoppage time for a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in their Euro 2024 opening game on Tuesday. Conceicao, who only made his entrance in the 90th minute, fired the ball home in the 92nd after Robin Hranac`s attempted block of fellow substitute Pedro Neto`s shot fell kindly for the Porto winger to shoot inside the left post.

“The players that came off the bench showed that the team has a lot of options,” Portugal coach Roberto Martínez said. Conceicao wheeled away in delight and was booked for taking off his jersey. It comes almost 24 years to the day since Conceicao`s father, Sérgio Conceicao, scored a hat trick to knock defending champion Germany out of Euro 2000. Czech Republic goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek had thwarted Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portugal star became the first to play at six European Championship tournaments.

Also Read: England begin quest to deliver on great expectations at Euro 2024

The 39-year-old Ronaldo was unable to add to his record 14 goals in his record-extending 26th appearance at Euro 2024. Portugal`s 41-year-old defender Pepe became the oldest player to play at the tournament, though he had little to do as the 2016 champions dominated ball possession and chances. “We won because the group is united. We became resilient in the last few days,” said Martínez, who praised his team for fighting back after conceding first. It came as a shock when Lukas Provod broke the deadlock at the other end with a fierce strike inside the far post after Vladimir Coufal laid the ball back in the 62nd minute.

Portugal drew level in the 70th when Stanek`s save of Nuno Mendes` header rebounded off the luckless Hranac`s shin and in. Hranac was also involved when Conceicao scored the winner. “It was very unlucky, but it was a fast terrain, very wet. These unlucky things can happen,” Czech coach Ivan Hasek said. “I have to thank my players for their hard work. Portugal was better, they deserved to win.” Turkey defeated tournament debutant Georgia 3-1 in the other Group F game earlier.

(With agency inputs)


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