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Troubled Portugal come unstuck in Oslo

SoccerNews in European Championships 7 Sep 2010

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Rudderless Portugal did themselves no favours here Tuesday, losing 1-0 to Norway to leave them trailing in their Euro 2012 qualifying group after the opening skirmishes.

The hosts and beaten finalists of Euro 2004 were held to a shock 4-4 draw at home to minnows Cyprus on Friday, and after failing to pick up any points from this trip to Oslo are languishing in fourth in Group H.

Norway had Erik Huseklepp’s 20th minute goal to thank for this win which following their 2-1 win over Iceland in their opener leaves them sitting atop the table on six points.

Huseklepp, who plays his club football at home with SK Brann, fired a rebound into an open net after Portugal goalkeeper Eduardo failed to hold on to a shot from John Carew.

After losing their rhythm Portugal set out to restablish their authority on the game after the break, and Hugo Almeida had the ball in the back of the net in the 61st minute only for his shot to be ruled offside.

This was the worst possible result for Portugal who are without their manager Carlos Queiroz.

The former Manchester United assistant coach is serving a six month ban for insulting anti-doping officials.

The result also brought to an end Portugal’s eight-match unbeaten run against their Scandinavian hosts.

Queiroz will also be missing for Portugal’s next two qualifiers in October but team captain and star player Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed September’s double header due to injury, should be back in contention.

Portugal, who had to rely on a nervy play-off success to qualify for the World Cup, have little margin for error now when they take on Denmark on October 8 and Iceland four days later.

Portugal, semi-finalists at the 2006 World Cup, lost 1-0 to eventual winners Spain in the last 16 in this year’s edition in South Africa.

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