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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Portugal's road to the finals
Nuno Gomes and Sergio Conceicao of Portugal
Gomes and Conceicao reproduced their Euro 2000 form
BBC Sport Online examines Portugal's route to the finals via one of the toughest qualifying groups.

If anyone needed a reminder of how good Portugal can be, they showed during their qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup.

The Portuguese reached the semi-finals of Euro 2000, only to be beaten by the golden goal by eventual winners France.

Qualifying campaign
W 3-1 Estonia (a)
D 1-1 Republic of Ireland (h)
W 2-0 Netherlands (a)
W 3-0 Andorra (h)
D 2-2 Netherlands (h)
D 1-1 Republic of Ireland (a)
W 6-0 Cyprus (h)
W 7-1 Andorra (a)
W 3-1 Cyprus (a)
W 5-0 Estonia (h)

Yet the tournament made world stars of the likes of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Nuno Gomes.

All three played a part in their qualification for the World Cup, although they only edged Republic of Ireland out by goal difference.

The Portuguese built that goal difference up by taking full advantage of games against Andorra and Cyprus, where Gomes and Pauleta ran riot.

But perhaps the most important games were between Portugal and Holland.

The Dutch, who will be missing from Japan and North Korea, were beaten 2-0 at home by the Portuguese but had the perfect chance for revenge in the return game.

In Porto, goals from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Patrick Kluivert gave the Dutch a two-goal lead with less than 45 minutes remaining.

Pauleta of Portugal and Bordeaux
Pauleta grabbed his share of goals on the way

But Pauleta pulled one back before Figo equalised in injury time.

There were some nervous moments in Cyprus, with Portugal finding themselves 1-0 down at half-time.

But three second-half strikes calmed the nerves and a final win at home to Estonia served as a celebration.

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