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Nine-man Portugal reach last eight

Portuguese playmaker Deco becomes the third man to see red in Nuremberg.


NUREMBERG, Germany -- The nine men of Portugal beat the nine men of the Netherlands 1-0 in an explosive World Cup quarterfinal in Nuremberg on Sunday night.

A well-taken goal by Maniche after 23 minutes settled a tie which mixed moments of brilliance with the uglier side of the game as 16 yellow cards and four reds were brandished.

Portugal midfielder Costinha was sent off on the stroke of halftime. Dutch pair Khaled Boulahrouz and Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Portugal playmaker Deco departed in the second half.

The four red cards handed out by Russian referee Valentin Ivanov set an unwelcome World Cup finals record.

Costinha and Deco will be missing for Portugal's quarterfinal against England in Gelsenkirchen next Saturday after their dismissals.

Ivanov was criticized by matchwinner Maniche at the final whistle.

"The referee did not contribute to the spectacle.

"I don't think that it was such a violent match to merit so many sendings off," said Maniche, who also scored a superb goal when Portugal ousted the Dutch in the Euro 2004 semifinals.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter also weighed in. "I consider that today the referee was not at the same level as the participants, the players. There could have been a yellow card for the referee," he told Portugal's SIC television channel.

The Dutch made the brighter start as Mark van Bommel went close with an early long range effort, but Portugal struck with the move of the match.

It was started by Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo. Deco then crossed the ball looking for striker Pauleta, who tapped it back to Maniche who made space and thumped it into the net.

Ronaldo who had limped around the pitch clutching his right thigh after a high challenge by Boulahrouz in the eighth minute, which earned the Dutch defender his first yellow card, was eventually substituted in floods of tears, replaced by Simao Sabrosa 10 minutes before the interval.

The best Dutch chance of the first half saw Arsenal's Robin van Persie dummy expertly but send his close-range shot just wide.

But Portugal looked the more clinical in attack and the excellent Pauleta forced a fine save from Edwin van der Sar with a neat turn and shot.

Needless handball

However, their hopes took a downturn just before the interval as Costinha needlessly handballed and became the first man to see red on a night of shame.

The Dutch came out strongly at the start of the second half and nearly made their man advantage count as Philip Cocu's shot on the turn hit the underside of the crossbar.

As tempers started to fray, Portugal's veteran Luis Figo could count himself fortunate to be merely shown yellow after he appeared to headbutt van Bommel.

Moments later Figo was clipped by the elbow of Boulahrouz who was sent off for a second yellow.

With cards being handed out like confetti, it was only a matter ot time before more players saw red.

Deco lost his poise and first made a wild tackle on defender John Heitinga and followed it up with childish time-wasting in the 76th minute to be sent off by Ivanov.

The Dutch were unable to exploit their temporary one-man advantage as Dirk Kuyt, who came in for the dropped Ruud van Nistelrooy, wasted two good opportunities.

In the dying moments equilibrium was inevitably reached as van Bronckhorst became the fourth man to see red, going off to sit next to Barcelona teammate Deco in the dugout.

At the final whistle it was the Portuguese players and their enigmatic coach Luiz Felipe Scolari who were celebrating. Scolari, who guided Brazil to the 2002 World Cup, has now won a record 11 straight at the finals.

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