Conceicao Hat-trick Sparks Portugal Party over Germany

Published June 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A Sergio Conceicao hat-trick earned Portugal an emphatic 3-0 victory over Germany here on Tuesday despite fielding their second string having already qualified for the Euro 2000 quarter-finals. 

Conceicao, a substitute for both Romania and England’s matches, scored in the 35th, 54th and 71st minutes to bring his side a 100 percent record from group A. 

Portugal had already been assured a quarter-final meeting with Turkey in Amsterdam and made nine changes with only Jorge Costa and Fernando Couto keeping their places. 

Romania's 3-2 victory over England meant they take second spot in the group and meet Italy in Brussels in Saturday's other quarter-final. 

"It was so painful to watch. Once we got behind, nothing worked for us. Portugal led us a merry dance because some of our players just did not fight," Ribbeck said. 

"It's a shame for the team and especially for Lothar Matthaus, who was playing his last international match and who certainly would have liked it to have finished differently. 

"I am just as much to blame and I clearly said that if we went out in the group stages that would probably mean that I will stand down," he said. 

The 25-year-old Lazio’s right winger Conceicao caused a myriad of problems for the rearguard of Germany. The Germans were not among the first eight teams in this competition for the first time since 1968. 

A Pauleta cross from the left was deflected by defender Marko Rehmer high into the path of Conceicao at the far post for a simple, close-range header to put them 1-0 ahead at the interval. 

Germany, playing with Carsten Jancker as a lone striker, had little punch up front, with Sebastian Deisler firing in speculative balls into the box from the right. 

Sa Pinto had a cross, which was deflected into the top netting by Thomas Linke early on. After fifteen minutes, a Conceicao cross from the right found Pauleto whose shot just went wide of the left hand post. 

Germany's Jancker and Michael Ballack were both yellow carded before Beto was also cautioned by Dutch referee Dick Jol midway through the half. 

On the half hour, Germany had their best chance. In a move started by Dietmar Hamann but also involving Lothar Matthaus, Marco Bode fired a low left foot shot which came back into play off the right hand post. 

Seconds before the break, Jancker had a point-blank shot saved by stand-in keeper Pedro Espinha. 

German coach Erich Ribbeck brought striker Paolo Rink on for midfielder Michael Ballack to try and give them more strength up front. 

Lothar Matthaus, earning his 150th cap for Germany, looked busy throughout the game but nothing could stop Conceicao. 

He received the ball on the right wing, cut inside Dietmar Hamann on the edge of the box, and then fired a left foot shot into the left side of the goal despite Linke's challenge for 2-0. 

By this time, the Portuguese contingent in the 51,000 capacity De Kuip Stadium were already celebrating. 

Thomas Hassler came on for Mehmet Scholl and Ulf Kirsten came on for Jancker as Ribbeck tried hard to hit on a winning formula but it came to nothing. 

Worrying for Portugal coach Humberto Coelho, Pauleta had to go off on a stretcher midway through the second half and was replaced by Nuno Gomes. 

Kirsten missed a point blank header from a Rink cross from the left in what would have been his first touch and Hassler had a curling shot saved as Germany pushed forward. 

Conceicao just refused to concede the limelight, however. He outpaced Linke and his right foot shot went sailing past Kahn's right hand to complete his hat-trick -- (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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