PORTO, Portugal, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Portugal clinched a
place at the Euro 2008 finals with a 0-0 draw against Finland on
Portugal, runners-up on home soil in 2004, needed a point to
go through behind Poland in Group A.
'We did not expect many difficulties (in qualifying) but we
had many injuries during the campaign,' said Portugal coach Luiz
Felipe Scolari, who returned to the bench after completing his
three-match ban for an assault on Serbian player Ivica
Dragutinovic in September.
'As for the future, we have to improve with the return of
our injured players and prepare a good team for the finals.'
In a rainy match, neither side had many scoring
opportunities in the first half.
Brazilian-born defender Pepe, making his debut after being
granted Portuguese citizenship, headed the ball into Finland's
net from a cross by Ricardo Quaresma after 19 minutes but the
goal was disallowed for a foul on keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
In the second half, Portugal put the Finland defence under
pressure but the home side squandered their chances. Midfielder
Maniche wasted the best opportunity when he shot wide from
Cristiano Ronaldo's cross.
Finland, who had an outside chance of qualifying if they
won, went close to snatching victory late on but Mikael
Forssell's shot was turned away by keeper Ricardo.
'It was complicated but everyone tried. I think we did not
have any luck. We fought hard and left 50,000 people (stadium
capacity) nervous,' Finland coach Roy Hodgson said.
Commenting on his future as Finland coach, Englishman
Hodgson added: 'The president wants me to stay, but we will talk
about it later.' Hodgson has been linked with taking over as