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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK banner
Dignity in defeat?
Prolonged Portuguese protests over that penalty
Prolonged Portuguese protests over that penalty
BBC Sport Online's Peter Lansley gauges reaction to the Portuguese protestations over the penalty that handed France a place in the final.

The crime committed by Portugal's Abel Xavier was severe enough to bring the ultimate derision from some Mexican fans going back on the train from Brussels.

"He must be a distant cousin of your Paul Neville," said Daniel Dantus. (Yes, he did say 'Paul')

England's first-round conquerors were out, themselves falling victim to a late penalty decision when Xavier, a ginger-haired defender from Everton looking more like a pint of Guinness, handled a shot three minutes from the end of Euro 2000's first recourse to extra-time.

The decision was less clear cut than when Phil Neville brought down Viorel Moldovan and Romania ended England's campaign.

Haranguing

But the prolonged haranguing of the sharp-eyed referee's assistant could not deter Zinedine Zidane from driving home the golden penalty.

So what did Dantus, a 28-year-old from Mexico City at his ninth game of the Euros, and his gang make of the Portuguese protestations?

"They were great," said one. "They make the drama. You English need more fangs.

"You were winning against Portugal and Romania: you should have spent half the time down in the dirt after that to get through the time."


The Mexican fans have savoured the Euro 2000 atmosphere
Mexicans savouring the Euro 2000 atmosphere
This group of supporters - Dantus supports Cruz Azul - help to illuminate the appeal of international football.

One of them has been going to all the World Cups and European Championships since 1988. The pleas to indulge in time-wasting are thrown in tongue-in-cheek to test the English mentality.

Contrast this with the attitude of the Portuguese after France were awarded their penalty.

Disgust

The sunshine tournament - all games ending within 90 minutes before this, and none of the 15 BBC Sport Online have visited suffering a single drop of rain - was temporarily sullied as Luis Figo took his shirt off in disgust, the whole team ran to lambast the official and Eusebio, a national sporting icon, was obliged to run round trying to instil dignity in defeat.

So good job we had a Brit to sort the trouble out.

Hugh Dallas from Scotland probably thought he was on a cushy number when he landed the fourth official's post for this semi-final.

Instead he provided a one-man bodyguard to the under-fire linesman, steering him back to the sanctity of the changing rooms.

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Sportstalk SPORTSTALK
Portuguese protests Penalty fracas
Did Portugal's players overreact?
See also:

29 Jun 00 | Portugal
Uefa delays decision on fracas
28 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Portugal coach resigns
29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Lemerre salutes 'great' referee
28 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Zidane sends France through
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