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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 June, 2004, 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK
Starkovs salutes Latvians

Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs
Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs hailed his players and said the country should be very proud after they held Germany to a 0-0 draw at Euro 2004.

Latvia secured their first ever point in a major tournament in Porto.

"This is a historic - I wanted to say win - draw. I'm happy and proud for our country and our fans," said Starkovs.

"This was the second game in our first finals tournament. My players kept their nerve and played a better game than in our previous match."

He added: "I feel my team is growing from match to match.

Maybe the referee was a little afraid - he could have done something incredible
Marian Pahars

"Now the final standings in our group also depend on our team and we want to put on another good show in our last match.

"This is simply an excellent result for our fans, both here in Portugal and at home."

Latvia had what appeared to be at least two good appeals for a penalty turned down for challenges on striker Maris Verpakovskis.

Starkovs added: "The 17th team at the tournament are the referees. We will see where they end up in the final standings.

"Verpakovskis is very individual and his task is not to pass but to use his skill - in the first half when he got he ball and ran at goal it was a great moment.

"I have not seen anything like that in the tournament to compare yet. I want to congratulate Maris for what he did."

Southampton striker Marian Pahars, who was used as a late substitute by Latvia, blamed English referee Mike Riley for not giving them a penalty.

"I think one of the incidents was a clear penalty but I think because I play in England I was not surprised," said Pahars.

"They never give penalties like that in England.

"Germany are a big side and maybe the referee was a little afraid - he could have done something incredible."

Links to more Latvia stories



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