Denmark clash like a final, warns Portugal boss

TIRANA (Albania) • Portugal manager Fernando Santos has warned his side to treat their next Euro 2016 qualifier against Denmark as "a final" despite extending their lead atop Group I on Monday.

A stoppage-time header by defender Miguel Veloso gave Portugal a 1-0 win in Albania.

And a draw against the second-placed Danes next month will ensure qualification.

"We have to face Denmark as a final," he told RT1.

"Victory is always important. We took an important step, but it's still nothing decided.

"We played well against a good Albania team, but the team always believed and we ended up being happy."

Portugal avenged their shock defeat by the Albanians in the reverse fixture at home after Veloso rescued them from a series of misses by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Real Madrid hitman went into the clash having scored five of Portugal's last seven goals.

No player in the continent had won more points for his country than Ronaldo, whose individual efforts have put seven points on the board. But his team-mates showed that they do no always rely on the forward to win matches.

After he skewed an inviting cross wide from almost point-blank range in the 13th minute and glanced a header wide on the half hour, it was left to Ricardo Quaresma and Veloso to break the deadlock.

Just when Albania looked like they would hang on after the woodwork denied winger Nani, Veloso rose above his marker to head home a Quaresma corner on 92 minutes.

The Portuguese have 15 points from six games, ahead of Denmark who have 12 from seven after a 0-0 draw in Armenia.

"After half-time our team had one of its worst matches," said Denmark manager Morten Olsen.

"We failed in the last 20 minutes. The Armenians also proved they can play. The fact they have only got two points must be a mistake."

Third-placed Albania have 11 points from six games and despite the setback are assured of at least a play-off berth.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Denmark clash like a final, warns Portugal boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe