LISBON, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Portugal striker Hugo Almeida's goal just before halftime secured a 1-0 victory over stubborn Armenia in Group A, leaving them needing a point from their final game to qualify for Euro 2008.
Almeida headed the only goal after 42 minutes from a
pinpoint cross by defender Jose Bosingwa.
They should have taken the lead as early as the third minute
but Simao Sabrosa hit the post.
Armenia, well organised and disciplined, threw everything
behind the ball to frustrate Portugal's forwards.
The visitors had few scoring chances, the best coming on the
half hour when Bosingwa cleared a shot from Samvel Melkonyan
behind for a corner.
Portugal host Finland at home in Porto next Wednesday
knowing a draw will take them through to the finals.
Finland and Serbia, whose game against Kazakhstan was
postponed because of snow on Saturday and has been rescheduled
for Sunday, still have a chance of qualifying behind group
leaders Poland if Portugal slip up on Wednesday.
'Fortunately, we managed to grab the win. We knew it would
be difficult because it was so important but we got the result
we wanted,' assistant coach Flavio Murtosa told reporters.
Murtosa was in charge while coach Felipe Scolari completed a
three-match ban for an assault on Serbia player Ivica
Dragutinovic in September.
Portugal winger Nani said the match was no walkover.
'It was a difficult game but now we hope our fans will
continue to support the team and fill the Porto stadium for the
'The Armenians played well, especially defensively and moved
the ball around. It was hard for us to gain some space but we
managed to make the goal,' he said.