Pepe gets Portugal off to winning start

A Pepe goal just after the hour set Portugal on their way to a 2-0 victory over Turkey in their opening Euro 2008 game Saturday.

Raul Meireles added a sumptuous second in injury-time.

Although Turkey posed sufficient threat on the break to ensure it was not a completely one-sided contest, Portugal were almost entirely dominant in terms of goal chances, and thoroughly deserved their win.

Twice they struck the post, through Cristiano Ronaldo and Nuno Gomes, and had a goal ruled out, before Pepe finally broke the deadlock after 61 minutes.

Gathering the ball on halfway, the Real Madrid centre-back advanced, exchanged passes with Nuno Gomes, and then lifted the ball - possibly with the help of a slight deflection - over Volkan Demirel.

Portugal's only real concern would be that they did not win more comprehensively.

Ronaldo was spasmodically exciting, but the real pluses were Deco and Joao Moutinho, who dominated the centre of midfield despite their lack of height.

Petit had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside on 17 minutes, and Ronaldo drew a superb fingertip save from Demirel as he tipped his trademark free-kick against the upright.

Gokhan Zan then made a fine block to deny Moutinho after he had been laid in by Deco.

The barrage continued after half-time. Gokhan was guilty of an awful foul on Simao Sabrosa, but as the ball broke to Nuno Gomes, referee Herbert Fandel allowed play to continue, only for the forward to jab his shot against the post.

The goal settled Portugal, but it didn't bring them any great fortune, and Nuno Gomes again hit the bar with a looping header from a Ronaldo cross.

The second finally arrived seconds before the final whistle, Meireles tucking in after Mountinho, receiving Ronaldo's pass, took Demirel out of the game with a superb turn.

After a rather bitty first game between the Czech Republic and Switzerland, this was the match that got the tournament rolling, and Portugal did more than enough to justify their position as overwhelming favourites to win the group, dpa reported.

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