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Portugal face uphill struggle after Sweden draw

PORTUGAL face an uphill struggle to reach the World Cup finals after wasting a host of chances in a 0-0 qualifying draw with Sweden yesterday.

With Group One's joint leaders Denmark and Hungary posting away wins against Malta and Albania respectively, Portugal now have little room for error and must turn their attacking displays into victories to have any chance of progressing.

Denmark have 10 points from four matches, the same haul as Hungary who have played a game more. Portugal and Sweden are level on six points.

"We're frustrated after so much effort and a good display. Unfortunately football is not for those who deserve it but for those who win," said Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz.

"It's not over though we have to admit we are in a more difficult situation."

Portugal dominated the first half and came close to scoring in the 17th minute when Tiago almost made the most of a bad back pass to Sweden keeper Andreas Isaksson.

Tiago then supplied Cristiano Ronaldo on the right, only for the winger's attempt to chip Isaksson to go wide.

Sweden had another escape in the 24th minute when Duda's cross from the left wing hit the post after deceiving the keeper.

A flowing move on 43 minutes involving Ronaldo, Tiago and Raul Meireles ended with Simao Sabrosa's volley going just wide and Portugal suffered another blow moments later when defender Jose Bosingwa limped off injured.

Danny continued Portugal's poor finishing in the second half when he failed to hit the target after an excellent pass from Tiago.

The visitors, missing striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic through suspension, seemed to settle for a draw.

Sweden's best chance came on 55 minutes when Johan Elmander forced Eduardo Carvalho into a close range save but they rarely threatened.

Playmaker Deco came on as a substitute after 62 minutes and had two good chances to break the deadlock for Portugal when a low drive was saved by Isaksson and a curling shot flew inches wide.

"Portugal played better but we defended very well and you could say we earned the draw," said Sweden coach Lars Lagerback.

"Of course I am satisfied with a point here. We still have to play two games against Denmark so everything is open in this group."


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