Pauleta's hat-trick sinks Poland
CHONJU, South Korea (Reuters) -- Striker Pauleta scored a hat-trick as Portugal crushed Poland 4-0 in torrential rain on Monday to reignite their World Cup campaign and dump the Poles out of the competition.
As the month-long tournament reached its halfway stage, Portugal recovered from their shock 3-2 defeat by the United States to overwhelm the hapless Poles.
Portugal's victory left them on three points in group D, one fewer than both South Korea and the United States, who drew 1-1 earlier on Monday. (Full story)
Poland, who lost 2-0 to the Koreans in their opener, are eliminated from the tournament without a goal to their name.
"It was a well-fought game in which Portugal entirely and justly got the result they deserved. Everything is still open but we do have our first three points," Portugal coach Antonio Oliveira said. "The difference today was the team spirit."
Oliveira brought on Rui Costa on the hour to add a further touch of class to the Portuguese attack and the substitute added the fourth goal three minutes from time when he poked home a right-wing cross.
Pauleta, whose hat-trick was the first by a Portuguese player at the finals since Eusebio in 1966, opened the scoring in the 14th minute.
He brought down a diagonal cross from Joao Pinto on the Portuguese left, turned inside his marker and beat Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek at his near post with a powerful right foot drive.
The Portuguese had the better of the rest of the match but pouring rain thwarted their attempts to play their trademark fluid football.
But in the 65th minute Pauleta added his second, stealing inside his marker and sliding in on the edge of the six-yard box to meet a Luis Figo cross and force the ball over the line.
Figo curled a shot against the base of Dudek's left hand post two minutes later as the Portuguese continued to pile on the pressure.
Pauleta completed his hat-trick, the second of this World Cup, in the 77th minute, weaving past defender Tomasz Waldoch before slamming a low shot past the unfortunate Dudek.
The rain, which many had predicted would be a major feature of this World Cup, finally came just before kick-off in the 32nd match of the tournament. It continued throughout the match, prompting a number of sliding tackles from both sides -- not all of them well timed.
The Portuguese had three players cautioned before the break, while Polish midfielder Piotr Swierczewski and substitute Arkadiusz Bak were also booked.
Swierczewski, shown the yellow card against South Korea, will miss his side's final match against the United States.
Pauleta, the French first division's top scorer last season with Bordeaux, was a threat to the Polish defence from the start.
The Poles rarely threatened, despite fielding a three-pronged attack led by Nigerian-born striker Emmanuel Olisadebe, whose best effort was a slightly underhit left foot shot which Vitor Baia saved comfortably.
Oliveira's side continued to dominate in the second half and Poland's only response was a disallowed goal. Forward Pawel Kryszalowicz headed the ball in following a scramble in the box but was rightly adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Vitor Baia during the build-up.
Portugal, playing in their third World Cup finals and first since 1986, now face South Korea in their final group match with their campaign well and truly back on track.
The Poles, who finished third in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups, will return home bitterly disappointed with their showing in their first appearance at the finals since 1986.
Their coach Jerzy Engel was philosophical after the match, saying he realised there was a possibility he would be sacked. "We coaches are always ready," he said.
"We are sitting in the mouth of a volcano. We always have to be ready for something to happen. But I don't think so. We have a new target. The European Championships in 2004.
Germany's Miroslav Klose scored the tournament's first hat-trick in his side's record 8-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia.
Portugal Baia, Costa, Couto, Jorge, Figo, Petit, Bento, Frechaut, Sergio Conceicao, Pauleta, Pinto. Subs: Andrade, Barbosa, Beto, Caneira, Capucho, Nelson, Nuno Gomes, Ricardo, Rui Costa, Sousa, Viana, Xavier.
Poland Dudek, Kozminski, Waldoch, Hajto, Michal Zewlakow, Kryszalowicz, Swierczewski, Kaluzny, Krzynowek, Olisadebe, Zurawski. Subs: Arkadiusz Bak, Jacek Bak, Glowacki, Klos, Kucharski, Majdan, Matysek, Murawski, Rzasa, Sibik, Marcin Zewlakow, Zielinski.
Referee H Dallas (Scotland)
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