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We imposed our quality, says Portugal's Scolari

Written by: Staff

FRANKFURT, June 17 (Reuters) Portugal reached the World Cup second round for the first time in 40 years today after a quality display, said coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

''We respected Iran but we imposed our quality,'' said Scolari after his team qualified from Group D with a comfortable, if not dynamic, 2-0 victory over Iran who have been eliminated.

It was the first time they had got through the first round since 1966 when inspired by Eusebio they reached the semi-finals before losing 2-1 to eventual winners and hosts England.

''I thought Portugal played better than they have done in the last seven or eight games,'' added Scolari, who led his native Brazil to World Cup success in 2002 in Japan.

Iran battled gamely but wilted in the second half just as they had against Mexico in a 3-1 defeat in their opener.

''We played a very good game but, unfortunately, it was hard to make something happen on the field against a good Portugal team,'' said Iran coach Branko Ivankovic.

''It was an evenly balanced match but Deco scored a quality goal and after that it was very hard for us to equalise.'' Playmaker Deco lit up a pedestrian match with a superb 25-metre strike to open the scoring just past the hour before Cristiano Ronaldo got the second with an 80th minute penalty.

Iran striker Vahid Hashemian added: ''Forty-five minutes are not enough. You have to run for 90 minutes. We were the better team against Mexico but today we deserved to lose.'' REUTERS MP PM2137

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