HELSINKI, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo produced a string of fine saves as the World Cup semi-finalists held on for a 1-1 draw against Finland in their Euro 2008 qualifier on Wednesday.
Portugal had Ricardo to thank for a point after playing most of the second half with 10 men following defender Ricardo Costa's dismissal for a second yellow card on 53 minutes.
Finland, who stunned Poland with a 3-1 away victory in their Group A opener on Saturday made a bright start with defender Sami Hyypia off target with a free header at the back post.
The hosts took the lead on 23 minutes when Joonas Kolkka broke down the left wing and Jonatan Johansson tapped home his cross. Nuno Gomes equalised four minutes before halftime.
Portugal are clear favourites to win Group A, while the Finns - with experienced campaigners like attacking midfielder Jari Litmanen and Hyypia - are hoping to qualify for their first ever finals in 2008 under new coach Roy Hodgson, who praised Ricardo's performance after the game.
'When you do create good goal chances (against Portugal) you still have Ricardo to beat and today we were able to beat him once,' he said.
'Their goalkeeper made two exceptionally good saves from Sami Hyypia. If we would be less modest people we would say we could have won.'
When asked whether he was satisfied with four points from two games against the group favourites, Hodgson added: 'I'm overjoyed.'