Iraq shocks Portugal in men's soccer

Patras, Greece (Sports Network) - Iraq stunned Portugal 4-2 during a physical and hard fought match in each team's opening game of the Olympic tournament.

The Iraqis used goals from four different players and a controversial red card against Portugal to earn the remarkable upset. Iraq had not competed in the Olympic soccer tournament since 1988, and their qualification alone was viewed as a success.

But head coach Adnan Hamad Majeed and his players apparently did not come to Greece just to lie down for the European powers. Despite falling behind 1-0 in the 13th minute on an own goal, the Iraqis did not quit. Emad Mohammed struck in the 16th minute and Hawar Mulla Mohammed gave Iraq a 2-1 lead in the 29th minute.

Twenty-one-year-old Porto prospect Bosingwa scored the equalizer for Portugal just before halftime, but it proved to be the Euro Cup 2004 runner up's last strike.

A controversial red card in the 51st minute against Portuguese forward Boa Morte put Iraq a man up for the remainder of the match. Morte appeared to accidently kick the boots of Iraq defender Bassim Abbas, but an irate Morte was sent off.

Iraq took advantage just five minutes later when Younis Mahmoud scored the eventual game winner.

"Everybody expected Portugal to win. We played very good football, showing that we are a good team, and we pulled off a surprise," said Mahmoud.

The match was full of hard fouls as six yellow cards were handed down from Cameroonian referee Evehe Divine.

Despite playing with just 10 men, Portugal put heavy pressure on the Iraqis in the last 20 minutes, even hitting the crossbar once off an Almeida header. Manchester United's young superstar Cristiano Ronaldo dazzled the fans with amazing footwork but was unable to break through.

Iraq's Salih Sadir, who came on in the 71st minute as a substitute, netted the insurance goal when Portugal was caught desperately pushing up during injury time.

This is the first Olympics in a generation during which the Iraqi athletes will not compete under the control of Sadam Hussein's regime.

"Although we are under a difficult situation in our country, we put in a great performance against a big European team," said defender Haidar Abdul Razzaq.

In other men's action on Thursday, Costa Rica and Morocco played to a foul-littered scoreless draw. Morocco captain Jamal Alioui was sent off in the 59th minute for a foul on the edge of the box.

"The decision of sending one of our players off belongs to the referee. This made us lose our concentration," said Morocco coach Mustapha Madih.

Paraguay scored the first four goals of its game against Japan and then held on for a 4-3 victory.

"It was a big step for my team gaining the three points that will put us in a strong position in the effort to qualify for the next round. Itís very important for any team to get off to a winning start, especially in a competition of this magnitude," said Paraguay coach Carlos Jara Saguier.

Italy needed a late goal from Alberto Gilardino to salvage a 2-2 tie against Ghana.

"We became much stronger in the second half and so we managed to change the game in our favor, thanks to Pinzi's and my goal," said Gilardino.

By The Source
Aug 13, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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