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Time to give Portugal some credit says Santos, lack of concentration cost us say Welsh coach

Portugal's coach talks Fernando Santos congratulates Bruno Alves at the end of the semi-final tie agianst Wales

Portugal coach Fernando Santos said it was time to give credit to his team after their 2-0 win over Wales took them to the Euro 2016 final on Wednesday.

Portugal, who will face Germany or France in Sunday’s final, had not previously won a game inside 90 minutes at the tournament and had been criticised for taking part in dull matches.

They struggled again to break down Wales but coasted home after Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani scored early in the second half.

“At some point they will have to say that Portugal had the merit of dismantling our opponents,” Santos told reporters.

“They keep saying that merits belong not to Portugal but our opponents such as Iceland.”

Portugal have not lost one of their 13 competitive matches since Santos was appointed in September 2014, although the Wales game was the first time they have won by more than a single-goal margin under his leadership.

Santos, who previously coached Greece at Euro 2012 and the last World Cup, emphasised that Portugal had not given an inch to their opponents once again.

“Portugal always have a game plan, an attacking game plan and a defensive game plan,” he said.

“We know we aren’t the best in the world, but we also know that it will be difficult for anyone to beat us.

“We have been an excellent team on the pitch who are sometimes pleasant to watch and sometimes less pleasant to watch,” said the 61-year-old who has coached several clubs in both his homeland and Greece.

“Portugal have done what we have to do, without worrying whether we have been pretty or ugly but instead worrying about whether we have been good or bad.”

Wales head coach Chris Coleman consoles Ashley Williams and Gareth Bale
Wales head coach Chris Coleman consoles Ashley Williams and Gareth Bale

Wales manager Chris Coleman said he was “immensely proud” of his team after their hopes of reaching the Euro 2016 final were dashed by a brief lapse of focus during.

Wales, playing their first semi-final in a major tournament, more than matched their opponents in the opening half but they were dealt a knockout blow after the break when Portugal scored two goals in a matter of minutes.

“We lost our concentration for five minutes and when you’re up against quality in a semi-final, you’re going to get punished,” Coleman told reporters.

“We’ve done plenty of winning, it was our turn tonight to lose. It’s not a nice feeling but congratulations to them. I hope they go and win it.”

For a Wales side who defended stoutly on their stunning run to the last four, it was a disappointing end to a first major tournament for 58 years.

Having guided his side to within touching distance of the final, Coleman said his players had overcome a mental block but the challenge now is to build on their success.

He wants them to use their first experience of tournament football to create a legacy that will last beyond his time in charge.

“It was important for us to get over the psychological barrier and qualify for the first tournament,” said Coleman.

“There’s nothing like this. It’s such a healthy positive vibe, we absolutely loved every minute. We need some more of that.

“If you lose and you’ve given your best, that’s how it goes. But I’ve told the players this isn’t the end. Some of them will be here a lot longer than I will be here as manager,” added Coleman.

“We’ve come through some big tests, it’s been a great experience. Now we have to go into the next campaign with the same hunger and desire as we’ve had over the last three years.”

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