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Pauleta goal sees Portugal past Angola

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June 12, 2006 03:04 IST

Portugal secured a 1-0 win over Angola on Sunday as the African World Cup debutants overcame a nervous start to hold their own against their former colonial masters.

Pauleta almost scored after 12 seconds and did so after four minutes as the Euro 2004 runners-up threatened to run away with their opening Group D clash in a one-sided first 20 minutes.

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But Angola overcame their jitters, created a few chances of their own and walked off the pitch with their heads held high at the end of an emotional encounter.

Angola gained a bloody independence from their opponents in 1975 after 400 years of colonial rule but relations between the two countries have thawed since and eight of the Angola squad play their club football in Portugal.

The European side, unbeaten winners of a tough World Cup qualifying group, warmed to their task immediately as Pauleta skidded a shot just wide when they broke straight from kickoff.

He did not have to wait long to find the net though as three minutes later Luis Figo collected the ball in acres of midfield space, easily skipped past Kali and pulled the ball back for the striker to tuck in his 47th goal in his 83rd international.

The Angolans looked in disarray as Pauleta ran free on to another long ball before hooking over the bar but they eventually settled and enjoyed a flurry of half-chances.  

Andre forced Portugal keeper Ricardo to touch out a fierce long strike and captain Akwa was off beam with two attempted overhead kicks.

Ronaldo cracked a 35th minute header against the bar from a Figo corner and then had a stinging shot beaten out by Angola keeper Joao Ricardo.

However, Portugal's inability to find a second goal left captain Figo's displeasure obvious in his animated discussions with his team mates at the end of the first period.

The only action of note in the second half came in stoppage time when a fierce long-range Maniche drive was tipped over by the Angola keeper.

In their two previous meetings Portugal had triumphed 6-0 and 5-1 but as the second half progressed with little threat to the Angolan goal they were forced to settle for a far slimmer, but far more important victory.

Portugal next face Iran while Angola take on Mexico, who beat the Asian side 3-1 earlier on Sunday to set the Group D pace.

Mitch Phillips
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