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Lucky rebound gives Portugal narrow win over Kazakhstan
( 2003-08-21 09:29) (Agencies)

Portugal winger Simao Sabrosa deflected a clearance into the net to gift the home side a fortuitous 1-0 win over Kazakhstan in a disappointing friendly international on Wednesday.

Portugal's Luis Figo (C) runs bwtween Kazakistan's players Yevgeneiy Lovchev (L) and Andrey Shkarin during their friendly soccer match at Chaves's stadium August 20, 2003. [Reuters]
The winning goal came in the 65th minute when Kazakhstan defender Ihor Soloshenko attempted to clear the ball from the penalty area but it bounced off Sabrosa's chest past goalkeeper Yuri Novikov.

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said the lacklustre performance was quite normal for a group of players yet to gain full fitness at the start of their respective seasons.

"We hoped for a wider winning margin, but we can draw some positive conclusions from the overall display," said Scolari, who steered Brazil to its fifth World Cup title last year.

Portugal, which as hosts enjoy automatic qualification for the finals of next year's European soccer championships, were ragged and slow, allowing Kazakhstan's well-organised defence to soak up any attacking pressure with ease.

The poor play from the home side also drew whistles of derision from some of the 8,000 fans at Chaves stadium.

Kazakh winger Alibek Buleshev had the best scoring chance in the first half when he dribbled past two defenders and forced goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira into a fine save with a low, rasping shot.

Scolari used all his substitutes in the second half, including Manchester United's newly-signed 18-year-old winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who came on in the 46th minute for his senior international debut.

Portugal's next match is a home friendly against neighbours Spain in Guimaraes on September 6.

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