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Sunday, June 25, 2006
Maniche hails Portugal's 'tasty win'

NUREMBERG, June 25 (Reuters) - Portugal match-winner Maniche said his team's superior spirit had finally proved the difference in their 1-0 World Cup second-round win over the Netherlands which finished nine-a-side.

Maniche latched on to a Pauleta pass to fire the game's only goal after 23 minutes before it fell into near anarchy with four red cards being shared by the teams and eight other players also booked by referee Valentin Ivanov, a World Cup finals record.

The midfielder, though, preferred to concentrate on Portugal's fighting spirit after they spent much of a frantic second half a man down. 'I think we won because we are a great group, a group of talented players, a group of friends too,' Maniche told German television.

'Overall we deserved to win. This is a tasty win for Portugal.'

He continued: 'The referee did not contribute to a good show of football. I don't think this match was so violent to have as many sendings-off as we had.'

Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar blamed poor finishing for his team's inability to take advantage of their numerical superiority before Giovanni van Bronckhorst's 90th minute dismissal.

'Falling a goal behind was no problem but then you have to score the first chance you get and that one we missed,' he told reporters.

'At the end when we played 10 against nine we didn't get the ball where it should be.'

Dutch coach Marco van Basten said his team's relative lack of experience had proved the difference.

'In the second half after they were reduced to nine we forgot to play football and just looked for the most direct way to the goal. This match was a step too far for my inexperienced team,' he told reporters.

His opposite number Luiz Felipe Scolari added: 'For many years Portugal hasn't seen a team dignify the name of Portugal, fight for Portugal, doing so much for Portugal.

'We have to congratulate our team, our athletes. All I can think about today is this heroic, marvellous victory.'

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