LISBON: Portugal partied like crazy on Sunday as delirious fans celebrated their soccer team’s 1-0 victory over neighbours Spain and reaching the Euro 2004 quarter-finals.
“It’s absolutely terrific. I can hardly speak,” said 19-year-old student Eduardo Seixas after watching the game on a gigantic screen on the outskirts of Lisbon.
A second-half goal by substitute Nuno Gomes sent the crowd at the stadium and millions across the country into raptures, 23 years to the day since Portugal last beat their neighbours. Anything other than a home win would have seen Spain qualify.
In the capital, chanting crowds headed to Lisbon city centre where celebrations were in full swing.
Liberty Avenue, Lisbon’s tree-lined major thoroughfare, was jammed with honking cars and streaming national colours.
“It’s going to be crazy tonight. People will lose their heads. I don’t think there will be many people at work tomorrow,” said Joao Fragoso, a technician.
Local media reported street parties across the country, with Porto’s central square flooded with dancing people and thousands of fans going into ecstasy in Coimbra.
“Who won this game? Portugal. Not the 11 players but everyone. This was a win for the entire country,” said psychologist Mauro Corage.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Cartaxo, a famous wine-growing town around 80km northeast of Lisbon, while fireworks arched over revellers in the town of Portalegre near the Spanish border.
In the port of Aveiro, elated fans chanted “We want more! We want more!” and islanders on the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic were also joining the party.
Carlos Martins, 52, an orthopaedic technician, had to shout to be heard over his three screaming teenage children waving flags from the windows of his van.
“I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I never gave up believing in our players,” he said in Lisbon.
Luiz Felipe Scolari, Portugal's Brazilian coach, was the hero of the hour especially for Iolanda Braga, a Brazilian student, brandishing both the Brazilian and Portuguese flags from her car. – Reuters