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EURO 2004

Greece's golden moment

Win over Portugal completes upset

LISBON, Portugal -- Even before the Olympics, 2004 will be remembered as one of the great years for Greek sports.

Greece won the European Championship in one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, beating host Portugal, 1-0, yesterday on Angelos Charisteas's goal early in the second half.

"I have no words to describe what I'm feeling right now," Greek captain Theodoros Zagorakis said. "We just proved once more that the Greek soul has always been there, the greatest thing that God gave us."

Charisteas scored in the 57th minute with a header off a corner kick from Angelos Basinas.

Giourkas Seitaridis went on a speedy run down the right and was stopped by a block by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, with the ball rolling over the end line. Basinas floated the corner kick into the 6-yard box, and Charisteas timed his run perfectly to outjump Jorge Andrade and beat goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira from 5 yards.

"All Greeks should celebrate this victory. We are the best team in Europe," Charisteas said. "It's the greatest moment of my career. When I scored, I thought we could not lose."

The unheralded Greeks, a 100-1 shot given little chance of advancing from a first-round group that included Spain, Portugal, and Russia, had been to only two major tournaments before this, the 1994 World Cup and the 1980 European Championship, failing to win a game.

In Athens, which hosts the Olympics from Aug. 13-29, thousands of jubilant fans waving Greek flags and honking car horns poured into the streets and fireworks formed a bright drape over the Acropolis and other monuments.

Portugal, which dominated possession in its first major final, nearly tied the score with 16 minutes remaining, but with goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis out of position, Ronaldo lobbed the ball over the crossbar. Traianos Dellas blocked Ronaldo's shot with 10 minutes to go, and Nikopolidis allowed a rebound of Ricardo Carvalho's 25-yard shot, but Portugal didn't have anyone in front. "We have to lift our chins up and look to the future," said Ronaldo. "This doesn't end here. We showed we have a great team, and we'll keep going."

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