Portugal ready to continue revival

LISBON - Portugal, brimming with confidence after a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Denmark on Friday, look to carry the momentum gained from Paulo Bento's triumphant first game as coach into Tuesday's visit to Iceland.

Appointed last month to replace Carlos Queiroz, who was sacked for insulting anti-doping agents, Bento was under immediate pressure after Portugal had taken just one point from two Euro 2012 qualifiers having lost 1-0 in Norway and drawn 4-4 to Cyprus in Group H.

But despite having had just a few days with the players, Bento has lifted the dark clouds that had hung over the team during the Queiroz controversy.

"We've entered a new cycle, and he (Bento) given an us an injection of confidence and we want to repay everything he has brought us," goalkeeper Eduardo said.

The coach's knowledge of the players and recent experience as a Portugal international are likely to have helped him bond with the team so quickly.

Bento played with forward Cristiano Ronaldo at Sporting, where he later guided wingers Nani and Varela and midfielders Joao Moutinho and Carlos Martins for several seasons.

"It has been good to work with him (Bento), the players are happy and you can see that on the pitch," Ronaldo said.

Winger Nani inspired the team against the Danes, scoring two and creating another for Ronaldo, but Bento noted that Portugal's attacking intent was such that they should have ended with a bigger margin of victory.

Bento's first team selection earned praise from commentators for allowing Portugal to play in a passing style that was often stifled under Queiroz.

By bringing back Pepe from a midfield role to play in defence with his Real Madrid partner Ricardo Carvalho, Bento gave Portugal a solid and synchronised pairing at the back.

It also allowed him to deploy Raul Meireles in front of central defence. The Liverpool player's precise passing gave Portugal the ability to break forward smoothly and he combined well with the impressive Moutinho to control the midfield.

Up front, Nani seems intent on making up for missing the World Cup through injury and Ronaldo thoroughly deserved his goal after a strong second half.

Portugal climbed to second in Group H, but know they cannot afford any more slip-ups with Norway five points ahead of them.

Iceland lost their first two qualifiers but forced Norway to come from behind to notch a 2-1 win and Denmark only bagged the three points with a last-gasp goal.

"In theory, Iceland are the weaker opponent. They lost against Denmark and Norway but played good games. We have to be very careful," Moutinho said.

Portugal (probable line-up): Eduardo; Joao Pereira, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao; Carlos Martins, Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho; Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Nani.