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By ESPN Staff

Portugal triumphs in game marred by fouls

NUREMBERG, Germany (AP) -- Portugal survived a brutal foul-fest with the Netherlands, one of the dirtiest matches in World Cup history. Cleats bashed into thighs and shoulders, heads butted and elbows flew.

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Players faked injuries, complained and brawled.

Every bit as ugly: the blaming and finger-pointing that came after Portugal's 1-0 win Sunday, a victory that cost the Portuguese two key starters for their upcoming quarterfinal match with England.

"FIFA talks about fair play," Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "There was no fair play."

The Dutch coach, Marco Van Basten, shot back:

"If you talk about fair play, you should watch yourself first," adding that the Portuguese needed the shenanigans to beat his young team.

"They were a bit more experienced with all these tricks and all this time wasting," he said.

But when it came to expulsions, the sides were level at 2-2. The four red cards were a World Cup first and raised the number in this tournament -- whose motto is "A time to make friends" -- to 23, already a World Cup record after 52 matches with 12 to go.

House of Cards
There were 20 cards (16 yellow, 4 red) handed out in Portugal's 1-0 win over the Netherlands on Sunday.

2nd minute -- YELLOW CARD. Netherlands' Mark Van Bommel is cautioned for a trip on Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.
7th minute -- YELLOW CARD. Netherlands' Khalid Boulahrouz is booked for another bad challenge on Ronaldo.
20th minute -- YELLOW CARD. Portugal's Nuno Maniche gets booked for a foul on Van Bommel.
31st minute -- YELLOW CARD. Portugal's Francisco Costinha is booked for a late challenge on the Netherlands' Phillip Cocu.
45th minute (+1) -- RED CARD. Costinha is sent off for a deliberate hand ball, his second yellow-card offense.
50th minute -- YELLOW CARD. Portugal's Armando Petit goes straight into the book for an unnecessary challenge.
59th minute -- YELLOW CARD. Netherlands' Giovanni van Bronckhorst is booked for a trip.
60th minute -- YELLOW CARD. Portugal's Luis Figo is booked for a head butt on Van Bommel.
63rd minute -- RED CARD. Boulahrouz is given his second yellow for obstructing Figo with a flailing arm.
73rd minute -- YELLOW CARD. Portugal's Anderson Deco is booked for a frustrated trip on the Netherlands' Johnny Heitinga.
73rd minute -- YELLOW CARD. Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder is booked for pushing Petit.
73rd minute -- YELLOW CARD. Netherlands' Rafael Van der Vaart is cautioned during a scuffle between the teams.
76th minute -- YELLOW CARD. Portugal goalie Alexandre Ricardo is booked for time-wasting.
76th minute -- YELLOW CARD. Portugal's Nuno Valente goes into the book for a bad foul.
78th minute -- RED CARD. Deco is sent off for time-wasting, his second yellow card offense.
90th minute (+5) -- RED CARD. Van Bronckhorst is sent off for a second yellow card offense.

-- Reuters

* The current tally of 23 red cards for the 2006 World Cup surpasses the previous record of 22 expulsions at the 1998 tournament.
It also means the Portuguese face England minus Deco and Costinha, who were ejected amid the pushing, shoving and theatrics that left both teams with nine men by the end.

Portugal also lost Cristiano Ronaldo, a creative attacker, who came off with a leg injury from a second harsh foul. His status was still uncertain.

"Cristiano has five, six days to recover. We hope he will recover," said Scolari, who extended his World Cup record mark to 11 straight victories amid the chaos. The Brazilian led his home country to the 2002 title.

The 16 yellow cards Sunday tied a World Cup match record, with nine for Portugal and seven for the Netherlands.

But the difference in the game was a beautiful goal by Maniche in the 23rd minute that came off a quick threat on the edge of the area. Pauleta touched the ball to Maniche, who skipped inside a defender and shot right-footed past goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar from 16 yards.

After that, the bile began to rise, and the best the Dutch could do in reply was send cross after cross. Veteran midfielder Phillip Cocu sent a volley crashing on the bar and out again in the 48th minute.

"It is sad there was so little soccer played in the second half," Van Basten said.

With star striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy sidelined for tactical reasons, his replacement Dirk Kuyt came close twice, but not close enough.

"We didn't have the luck to score goals," said Van Basten, who lost his first competitive game since taking the job after the Netherlands lost to a Maniche goal in the semifinals of Euro 2004.

"Our missed opportunities, that made the difference," Van der Sar said.

The Netherlands also lost two players to red cards from Russian referee Valentin Ivanov -- Khalid Boulahrouz and Giovanni van Bronckhorst. In the end, the one thing both sides could agree on was blaming Ivanov.

"It is a pity the referee made a mess of this game," van Basten said.

Even FIFA president Sepp Blatter was unimpressed with how the game was handled.

"The refereeing wasn't up to the level of the teams," Blatter told Portugal TV on Sunday night. "Today certainly wasn't a fair-play day."

Amid the expulsions, the Portuguese held together better than the Dutch.

"From the start of the tournament our great strength has resided in our unity and the great support of the whole country," Figo said.

In two minutes before halftime, the game could have turned.

First, Van der Sar produced a stunning save on a point-blank shot from Pauleta in the goalmouth. Moments later, Costinha inexplicably handled a simple through pass for his second yellow card.

By that time, Ronaldo was already in tears on the bench after he left the field injured following an ugly, high tackle into his groin from Boulahrouz.

It set up a thrilling second half, with an outmanned Portugal facing a Dutch team still looking for its touch.

In the 63rd, however, Boulahrouz elbowed the irrepressible Figo on another run, earning his second yellow card.

Deco later lost his poise and first made a wild tackle on defender John Heitinga and followed it up with childish time-wasting in the 76th minute to be sent off by referee Valentin Ivanov.

In injury time, Van Bronckhorst was sent off for a second yellow card, making it nine-on-nine for the final seconds. The Barcelona teammates sat together in the dugout to watch the finale.