Euro C'ship qualifying: Portugal beats Armenia

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Hugo Almeida's 42nd-minute goal gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Armenia in European Championship qualifying on Saturday.

Updated: November 19, 2007 11:06 IST
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Leiria, Portugal:

Hugo Almeida's 42nd-minute goal gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Armenia in European Championship qualifying on Saturday.

Portugal's win in Group A moved it closer to joining Poland in next year's final tournament. Coach Luis Felipe Scolari's team requires only a draw from Wednesday's home game with Finland to advance.

Poland, which beat Belgium 2-0 earlier Saturday, leads with 27 points. Portugal has 26, three more than Finland. Serbia, whose game on Saturday with Kazakhstan was postponed, is fourth with 20.

Lacking five first-team regulars including FC Barcelona's Deco, Portugal almost scored in the second minute when Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovski parried Simao's effort onto the bar.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo then wasted a chance in the 12th when he headed over from an unmarked position.

Eight minutes later, Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo was forced to save from Sargis Hovsepyan.

Portugal defender Jose Bosingwa then rescued his team from Samvel Melkonyan's lob after Ricardo was caught out of his goal in the 30th.

Almeida calmed Portugal's nerves in the 42nd minute by heading the winning goal from Bosingwa's cross from the right.

Portugal started the second half brighter with chances arriving for Quaresma and Maniche, but then made little progress against a well-marshaled Armenian defense.

Scolari watched the game from the stands as he was serving the last game of a two-month touchline ban for scuffling with defender Ivica Dragutinovic at the end of Portugal's 1-1 draw with Serbia in September.



Portugal: Ricardo, Jose Bosingwa, Fernando Meira, Bruno Alves, Marco Caneira, Miguel Veloso, Maniche, Ricardo Quaresma (Manuel Fernandes, 59), Simao Sabrosa (Nani, 77), Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, (Ariza Makukula, 68).

Armenia: Roman Berezovski, Sargis Hovsepyan, Robert Arzumanyan, Karen Dokhoyan, Alexander Tateosian, Levon Pachajyan, Artur Voskanyan, Ararat Arakelyan, Artavazd Karamyan (Aghvan Mkrtchyan, 75), Romik Khachatryan (Hamlet Mkhitaryan, 59), Samvel Melkonyan (Edgar Manucharyan, 68).

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