Carlos Queiroz's men produced a display of fluidity and flair in Cape Town yesterday to earn their first win of the FIFA World Cup™ in style. After labouring in their opening Group G stalemate with the Cote d'Ivoire, they were under pressure to deliver against North Korea with a showdown against Brazil still to come.
They now head into that clash full of confidence after a six-goal rout in the second half made a serious statement to their rivals. "It was very good, we're happy because we scored goals," said two-goal hero Tiago, who was given the man-of-the-match award by official winner Cristiano Ronaldo. That's good, now we're closer to passing through into the knockout stage. We played good football, we're happy for that as much as for scoring a lot of goals. The most important thing was getting the three points.
"We've done that and we're happy, now we start to think about playing Brazil and looking to finish first in the group. To score six goals in 45 minutes I think is fantastic."
The former Chelsea midfielder added: "Now we can breathe and we want to go through. Of course to do that finishing first is better than second, so let's see. We go into the match with confidence now. It's a difficult game against Brazil, they are strong as well."
Raul Meireles scored in the first half before Simao Sabrosa, Hugo Almeida and Tiago hit one apiece within seven second-half minutes. Liedson and Ronaldo got in on the act before Tiago grabbed his second in the dying minutes. Portugal came into the match hoping to boost their goal difference with the Cote d'Ivoire, their main rivals to join Brazil in the next round, still to play a North Korea who were excellent in their 2-1 defeat by Dunga's side in the first game.
Queiroz said: "It's a feeling of great satisfaction for our players in the way they played, the attitude and perseverance with beautiful football and beautiful goals. I'd like to register my respect for the Korea DPR team. They leave with their heads held very high but sometimes we have to face these results. It is a great day for Portugal and Portuguese football, to score seven goals. We have to be more ambitious for the next phase."
North Korea coach Kim Jong-hun was quick to shoulder the blame. "Tactically speaking we fell apart and we didn't block their attacks," he said. "As a coach it was my fault for not playing the right strategy and that is why we conceded a lot of goals."