June 25, 2006
Portugal 1, Holland 0: In the ugliest game of the tournament to date, Portugal used a goal halfway through the first half by Maniche to edge the Oranje (who, incidentally, were wearing their away gear, which inexplicably has no orange in it. What gives?), as the first of the World Cup co-favorites gets bounced. Nine of the fourteen Portuguese players who saw action got carded, opposed to seven of the Dutch players, and some of the record-tying sixteen yellow cards were even deserved. Both sides finished with nine men. Kudos to referee Valentin Ivanov, for reminding soccer fans that at the end of the day, it's really the refs that are the story, not the players. Portugal next plays England, but will be without playmaker Deco, who received a red card for, believe it or not, delaying the game, and, in all likelihood, Man U. star Cristiano Ronaldo, who was badly injured in the first half.