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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 02:17 GMT 03:17 UK
England crushed in five-goal classic
England 2-3 Portugal
(Eindhoven - Att: 33,000)
England threw away a flying two-goal start in their opening match of Euro 2000 to go down to Portugal in Group A.
It was a blistering encounter from the outset, with Paul Scholes and Steve McManaman netting for England within 18 minutes of the kick-off.
Luis Figo and Joao Pinto restored equality going into half-time, and Nuno Gomes caught the England defence napping on the hour to snatch an unlikely victory.
There was yet more bad news for Kevin Keegan's side at the interval as Michael Owen, who was injured in a first-half tackle, was taken off and replaced with Emile Heskey.
And McManaman suffered a worrying knock to his knee after a seemingly-innocuous clash with Rui Costa after the break.
The much-touted battle between David Beckham and Figo went all the Manchester United midfielder's way in the opening minutes as he turned provider for both English goals.
Scholes scaled the heights to head home his 10th goal for his country after just two minutes and 40 seconds of the match, when Beckham, out on the right, found him with an inch-perfect cross.
The header skimmed off the underside of the bar and into the mouth of the goal, sparking wild celebrations on the pitch and in the terraces.
Portugal's attacking chances were limited to two consecutive corners as England passed fluidly and raided upfield once more.
The second goal came in copycat fashion when Beckham gathered a cheeky Owen back-heel and broke down the right, this time bringing the ball to the edge of the area before crossing to McManaman unmarked at the far post.
The Real Madrid star made no mistake with a side-footed volley into the roof of the net from eight yards to set the scores at 2-0.
Portugal immediately broke back and demonstrated the awesome ability of their attacking line-up in a move that ended in a disallowed goal for Gomes - adjudged marginally offside.
It made no difference as a piece of individual Figo magic restored hope for the favourites after 22 minutes.
The electrifying midfielder broke straight up the middle of the pitch and fired the ball between the legs of Tony Adams, gaining a fortunate deflection that rattled into the top right corner of David Seaman's goal.
The tempo of the match refused to lessen as Seaman was forced to pull off two outstanding saves.
But he could not keep out the Portuguese who showed devastating invention and skill to level the scores.
Costa's cross from the right of the England area on 37 minutes found Pinto, whose spectacular diving header, inches from the floor, sent the ball ricocheting in off the left upright.
The scintillating half ended 2-2, having already made the preceding matches of Euro 2000 look dull by comparison.
The second 45 minutes started in similarly breathless style, with Pinto sending the ball scraping off the top of the England crossbar from a corner.
But England struck back with Heskey earning a free-kick on the edge of the Portuguese area, then Shearer almost beat keeper Vitor Baia from a long, looping Neville cross.
There were more injury worries for Keegan on 57 minutes, when he was forced to replace McManaman - hobbling from a knee injury - with Dennis Wise.
And barely had the substitution been made when a low-level, skittering cross from Costa found Gomes in acres of space behind Adams, who failed to recover in time to stop the Portuguese striker's hammer blow.
England pressed up and sustained a good 10-minute period of pressure, producing a series of half-chances for Heskey, Scholes and Shearer that ultimately came to nothing.
But the danger of a lightning-quick Portuguese breakout was always there, and Gomes beat Seaman again with a neat header on 73 minutes, only for it to be disallowed for offside.
In a particularly cruel blow for England, Scholes' goal-bound rocket found the back of Shearer, who also failed to turn in the midfielder's header two minutes later.
The closing five minutes saw Portugal recede into their ever-tightening defensive shell and increasingly despondent England failed to produce the spark of magic that stood between them and defeat.
England: Seaman, G. Neville, Adams (Keown 82), Campbell, P. Neville, Beckham, Scholes, Ince, McManaman (Wise 59), Shearer, Owen (Heskey 46).
Portugal: Baia, Costa, Vidigal, Couto, Figo, Pinto (Conceicao 75), Rui Costa (Beto 85), Dimas, Xavier, Bento, Gomes (Capucho 90).
Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)
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