While the Portuguese did the necessary by recording an important first-day win against Uruguay, Ze Miguel's charges were made to suffer until the very last minutes. Deprived of the space to develop their usual intricate approach play, the world and European finalists were left in no doubt that the group stage will be far from a cakewalk. But with three points already in the bag, they are nevertheless on the right course for qualification.

"I'm satisfied with my players' display, although I feel we could have retained possession a bit better late on," declared the Uruguayan coach Venancio Ramos. "But we were playing against the second best team in the world, so I can't really say I'm surprised to have lost the game."

Portugal have made no secret of their ambition to win the title this year, and Uruguay initially offered them a golden opportunity to showcase their credentials. Venancio Ramos' charges stood off the Europeans so much in the early stages that Alan's opening goal had an air of inevitability about it. Stung, the South Americans realised that attack was the best form of defence, and the game subsequently sprung into life, ending 3-3 at the end of the first period.

Fifth last year and second in their continental hierarchy, the South Americans set about asking some serious questions of the Selecao, and even finished the second period in the lead for the first time in the match courtesy of a splendid bicycle kick from Sarandi Sobral.

But the Portuguese are not favourites to win the event for nothing. Their ranks contain numerous players capable of stepping it up a gear when need be. Pinned in their own half, Uruguay managed to hold out until just three from time, when, in the space of a few seconds, Hernani and Madjer gave the score an entirely different look and secured victory for their side.

"We knew it would be a tough game," acknowledged Portugal's coach Ze Miguel after the game. This Uruguayan side has a typically South American style and are becoming increasingly adept at nullifying us. But my players showed a lot of patience in waiting for the right moment and then hitting them where it hurts."

Referees: Joao Duarte (BRA), Ivo Santos (BRA) and Alberto Moreira (BRA)