Portugal, host nation for the European Championship in 2004, Saturday defeated world champion Brazil, 2-1, at Porto, Portugal, in a rain-spattered game that pitted Brazil’s two most recent World Cup-winning coaches against each other.
It was Luiz Felipe Scolari who emerged with the win, leading the Portuguese to their first victory over the Brazilians in 37 years. A goal by FC Porto playmaker Deco, the Brazilian-born midfielder whose call-up by Scolari caused a national debate, gave Portugal the win.
After Roberto Carlos was ejected for a foul in the 80th minute, Deco, a second-half substitute making his international debut, curled a free kick past goalkeeper Marcos to the cheers of fans in Antas Stadium.
“It was an evenly balanced game, but Portugal took its chances,” Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said.
With Scolari electing not to use Luis Figo, who was said to have a thigh strain but who had been one of those who objected to using naturalized players such as Deco, it was Pauleta who gave Portugal an early lead, scoring in the eighth minute off a pass from Sergio Conceicao.
Ronaldo lasted only 45 minutes and Rivaldo, too, was out of sorts, so it was up to Ronaldinho to provide the spark for Brazil, which he did by tying the score on a penalty kick in the 64th minute.
All that did, though, was to set the stage for Deco.
England, France and Italy improved their chances of qualifying for Euro 2004 with shutout victories Saturday, but two other European powers stumbled as Germany and Spain were held to ties.
England beat Liechtenstein, 2-0, at Vaduz, Liechtenstein, on goals by Liverpool’s Michael Owen and Manchester United’s David Beckham but was far from impressive.
France rolled over Malta, 6-0, at Lens, France, with Arsenal’s Thierry Henry and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane each scoring twice.
“We were aggressive in our approach and got the reward we deserved,” France Coach Jacques Santini told TF1 television.
Italy defeated Finland, 2-0, in front of 34,000 at Palermo, Italy, where Francesco Totti set up two goals for Christian Vieri.
Coach Giovanni Trapattoni’s “Azzurri” moved up to second place in their group with the win, but still trail unbeaten and untied Wales, which crushed Azerbaijan, 4-0, in front of 73,000 at Cardiff, Wales.
Germany, playing in front of 46,000 at Nuremberg, Germany, was held to a 1-1 tie by Lithuania.
The Germans got an eighth-minute back-heel goal from Carsten Ramelow, but Coach Rudi Voller’s team could not follow up on that success and was subsequently punished.
Tomas Razanauskas earned Lithuania a share of the spoils by scoring in the 73rd minute. Coach Algimantas Liubenskas called it “the biggest result in our footballing history.”
Spain, too, was thwarted by a late goal during a 2-2 tie with host Ukraine at Kiev in a game that featured three goals in the last six minutes.
The decisive strike was a stunning 25-yard volley by Oleksander Horshkov in the final minute. Ukraine’s defense had made Andriy Voronin’s 11th-minute goal stand up until the 84th minute, when first Raul and then Joseba Etxeberria scored to give Spain a brief lead.
At Rotterdam, host Netherlands was held to a 1-1 tie by the Czech Republic as both countries kept intact impressive unbeaten streaks and a share of the lead in their Euro 2004 qualifying group.
The Dutch, who have now gone eight games without a loss under Coach Dick Advocaat and have conceded only three goals in that time, took the lead when Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy headed in an Edgar Davids cross just before halftime.
But the Czechs, 8-0-4 since Coach Karel Bruckner took charge, tied the score on a goal by Jan Koller after a fine run by Liverpool’s Milan Baros had opened the Dutch defense.
Defender Frank de Boer became the first Dutch player to make 100 international appearances.
Denmark thrashed Romania, 5-2, at Bucharest, Romania, a result that led to the immediate resignation of Coach Anghel Iordanescu and the retirement from international competition of team captain Gheorghe Popescu and defender Iulian Filipescu.
“I must assume my responsibility and the only logical thing to do is step down,” Ioradanescu said.
Scotland took advantage of Germany’s tie to take the lead in their qualifying group by defeating Iceland, 2-1, at Glasgow, Scotland. Kenny Miller’s 12th-minute goal was canceled out by Eidur Gudjohnsen’s strike for Iceland four minutes into the second half, but defender Lee Wilkie headed in the game-winner in the 71st minute to put the Scots in first place, ahead of Germany on goals scored.
The United States, using nine of the players who helped it reach the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, defeated Venezuela, 2-0, in front of 17,819 in Seahawks Stadium at Seattle.
Kasey Keller earned his 29th shutout as the U.S. outshot the South Americans, 20-10, with Jovan Kirovski and Landon Donovan providing the goals.
After an uninspired first half, the U.S. took the lead in the 52nd minute when Kirovski, making his first national team appearance in a year, slammed in a rebound after Brian McBride had hit the post and Carlos Bocanegra had headed the ball against the crossbar.
Donovan took a John O’Brien pass and set off on a long run in the 76th minute, ending it with a shot past goalkeeper Gilberto Angelucci as the U.S. improved its post-World Cup record to 4-1-0.
The Americans next play Mexico at Houston on May 8 in a game that already has been sold out.
In other friendly internationals Saturday, South Korea and Colombia played to a 0-0 tie at Busan, South Korea, and Estonia defeated Canada, 2-1, at Tallinn, Estonia, where Andres Oper scored twice for the home team.
In CONCACAF qualifying play for the FIFA Under-17 World Championship at Finland, Canada defeated Costa Rica, 1-0, at Victoria, Canada, on Friday and needs only a tie against Mexico today to qualify. Mexico defeated Cuba, 3-0, on Friday.