Carvalho demanding Portugal tighten things up

Ricardo Carvalho is hoping Portugal can be "more compact, especially at the back" when they play Norway after twice surrendering the lead in a 4-4 draw with Group H rivals Cyprus.

Ricardo Carvalho and fellow Portugal defender Bruno Alves
Ricardo Carvalho and fellow Portugal defender Bruno Alves ©Getty Images

Portugal captain Ricardo Carvalho pledged that his side will quickly resume normal service against Norway in Group H on Tuesday as they aim to register their first win of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying.

Carvalho and Co were a victim of the handful of opening-match surprises on Friday, being pegged back by a determined Cyprus team in a thrilling 4-4 draw in Guimaraes. Considering Portugal had just conceded as many goals in 90 minutes as they had in their previous 19 games, Carvalho's shock was understandable.

"Our focus was good going into the game," he told, "but we started badly, and even though we got into a winning position we didn't manage to go on and get the win." The centre-back, leading the side in place of injured Real Madrid CF team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, said Portugal had paid the penalty for failing to press home their advantage. "We could have scored a fifth goal [when leading 4-3] but didn't and in the end we ended up with the draw."

The 32-year-old, who left Chelsea FC for Madrid for a reported €8m last month, said a back-to-basics approach would be the order of the day in Oslo. "We have to be more compact, especially at the back," he added. "We played well going forward but we're normally more secure in defence."

Fábio Coentrão, who will miss the game in Oslo because of a thigh injury, was philosophical about the late setback. "It happens; mistakes are part of football," said the SL Benfica defender. "We have to get our heads up for the game against Norway and come back."

Portugal could at least look back with satisfaction on a promising attacking display having created a plethora of chances. "We could have scored many more than four goals," said midfielder João Moutinho. "Unfortunately we didn't but we want to recover from this on Tuesday."

Coentrão is confident Portugal's creative qualities will stand them in good stead against Egil Olsen's side, and thinks a positive approach is important. "We're going there to win," he insisted. "It didn't go as we wanted but that's football. I'm sure we're going to win in Norway."

Moutinho concurred, stressing the significance of a win against one of their main rivals for qualification. "It's an important game for the team, he said. "We know they started well [by triumphing 2-1 against Iceland] and a victory is important for our morale and to get back on our way."