BY FAR THE stronger of the two semi-finals, the clash between tournament hosts Portugal and the Netherlands looked certain to decide the outcome of UEFA 2004.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, given the reputation of both nations for flattering to deceive on the grand stage, the opening half proved a tense affair, the chief highlight of which was Ronaldo’s 26th-minute opener.
Though Portugal grew into their lead, assuming control as the first half segued into the second, their hopes of reaching a first major final continued to hang by the slenderest of threads.
Until, of course, Porto striker Maniche collected the ball on the left touchline, nudged it infield and unleashed this wickedly curling effort around the handful of white-shirted defenders protecting Edwin Van Der Saar’s goal:
Portugal were home and hosed! The tournament would be theirs; the forces of Fate and Destiny had declared it so!
Well, not exactly…