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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
Greece complete fairytale

By Paul Fletcher
Our man in Portugal

Greece celebrate Euro 2004 success

Greece completed one of the most remarkable stories in the history of football on Sunday.

By beating hosts Portugal 1-0 at the Stadium of Light, they won Euro 2004 to make what seemed impossible a reality.

In 22 breathtaking days, Otto Rehhagel's team have gone from no hopers to European champions.

The country that had failed to win a single game at a major finals beat France, the Czech Republic and Portugal twice.

And as Leicester City reject Theodoros Zagarakis lifted the trophy, the superstars from European football's "elite" nations could only look on and wonder what might have been.

Greece won the final as they played all of their campaign.

Organisation overcame flair once more as they deservedly defeated opponents of some repute by turning the match into a test of wills.

It was always going to be this sort of contest from the moment Traianos Dellas dramatically headed Greece into the final in the 105th minute of their semi-final.

In truth, Rehhagel's team have no other choice if they want to win football matches against opponents of superior technical ability.

Otto Rehhagel

But they put their plan into action so brilliantly, working hard for each other, never losing their shape or composure and striking with no little speed and skill.

The Portuguese had already experienced the ardour of trying to dismantle a superbly marshalled defence - and lost - when they met in the opening game.

And they did so again with a display that was terribly disappointing for a nation desperate to win.

Portugal, with players of guile and panache, tried to prise open a door that remained shut.

Deco stumbled his way through a match he was supposed to dominate, his clever dinks and threaded passes rarely finding their destination.

Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo danced and dallied down blind alleys while Pauleta was again an anonymous figure.

The Portuguese supporters were disappointingly quiet, only occasionally rousing their team - they could see what was happening and it did not make pleasant viewing.

Luiz Felipe Scolari
Portugal coach Luis Felipe Scolari managed just 75 seconds in the dugout before leaping into his technical area, gesticulating and directing play with his arms.

And as the minutes ticked down after Angelos Charisteas' 58th-minute goal his frustration was clear to see, head in hands one moment, wild gestures of complaint towards the fourth official the next.

Rehhagel was equally animated, if in a more precise, structured way that reflects the style of his team.

In the final minutes it seemed as though the two were acting out a kind of bizarre dance.

But Scolari and his team can have no complaints after creating precious few chances against a team of players from clubs outside the top tier of European domestic football.

Greece's victory in Portugal may not be a triumph for the purist but there can be no doubt that they deserved to win this tournament.

Deco walks off in disappointment
Deco: A shadow of his normal self

Portugal, France and the Czech Republic all struggled against them.

A handful of the world's best players failed to find their form and the finest coaches in Europe could find no way to overcome what is, essentially, a very straightforward style of play.

Only Russia managed to defeat them.

And so the miracle, as Rehhagel termed it earlier in Euro 2004, is complete.

For the next four years Greece have the right to call themselves champions of Europe.



Links to more Euro 2004 stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
Watch highlights: Portugal 0-1 Greece



Interview: Stelios Giannakopoulos



Interview: Traianos Dellas




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