June 17, 2006

Deco and Ronaldo steer Portugal into last 16

By Karen Iley

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A stunning strike from Deco and a
Cristiano Ronaldo penalty gave Portugal a 2-0 triumph over Iran
on Saturday, sealing their place in the World Cup second round.

In an often tetchy and generally drab Group D encounter,
Iran held Portugal at bay for 63 minutes.

Playmaker Deco, back in the side after injury, broke the
deadlock by thumping in a sweet right-foot shot following a
left-wing cross from captain Luis Figo.

Iran, eliminated after suffering their second successive
defeat, went close to an equaliser four minutes later when
substitute Rasoul Khatibi shaved the woodwork.

Portugal had much more of the possession but Iran's defense
did well to keep lone striker Pauleta quiet.

Ronaldo made sure of victory with 10 minutes to go,
clipping his spot kick high into the net after Figo was sent
flying by a tackle from skipper Yahya Golmohammadi.

After converting his penalty, winger Ronaldo fell to his
knees and screamed with joy.

Portugal, who made three changes to the side which
struggled past Angola 1-0 on Sunday, had wasted several good
chances in the first half.

Deco pounced on a Figo cross to force a fine save from Iran
goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour in the 13th minute.

Portugal then cranked up the pressure toward the interval,
with Ronaldo's powerful left-foot strike striking the

Right back Miguel also pushed forward, stretching Mirzapour
again as the ball almost squeezed under his body.

Iran had an opportunity of their own when a header from
Vahid Hashemian forced Portuguese keeper Ricardo into a smart