Portugal boosted their precarious hopes of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ finals with a hard-fought victory over Hungary in Budapest. Pepe's goal proved the difference between the sides this evening as Carlos Queiroz's team moved on to 13 points in Group 2 and leapfrogged their hosts into third spot.
The result leaves the Portuguese five points behind pool leaders Denmark and two adrift of second-placed Sweden with two rounds of matches remaining.
Portugal have endured a disappointing qualifying campaign and run the risk of missing out on a place at South Africa 2010, with their destiny not in their own hands in next month's final qualifiers.
Despite their worries, Portugal started brightly tonight. Real Madrid's Pepe, occupying a defensive midfield role, converted the visitors' first noteworthy chance of the match in the tenth minute.
A free-kick from Deco on the left side found Pepe, who had timed his run perfectly to nod home what proved to be the winner. Even after conceding an early goal, Hungary kept things tight and looked to hit their opponents on counter-attacks which rarely materialised.
Portugal, too, were wary of compromising their early lead, which made for a cagey first half. The game continued along the same lines after the break, with the match only opening up at all when the hosts upped the tempo in the last 15 minutes.
Cristiano Ronaldo had another quiet night in national team colours and hit his best opportunity of the match only into the body of Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Babos.
Ronaldo's former Manchester United team-mate Nani had a sight of goal two minutes from time, but failed to test Babos.