Stars share spotlight

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

They came wearing jerseys with Figo and C. Ronaldo blazed on the back, hoping they might see the next great Portuguese star.

And the passionate fans of the soccer-mad European nation may have found what they were looking for yesterday on a brilliant afternoon at BMO Field.

A pair of teenagers named Bruno Gama and Fabio Coentrao put on quite a show for the sellout crowd of 19,500.

Gama scored both of Portugal's goals in an easy 2-0 win over New Zealand, which was making its first appearance in an U-20 World Cup event.

Coentrao dazzled with his skilled moves and footwork before sullying the brilliance with a series of dives and questionable injuries in the second half.

The antics did little to dissuade the crowd, filled with fans from the city's bustling Portuguese community. Organizers placed Portugal in Group C, based primarily in Toronto to capitalize on that support and so far, so good.

"It is always good to score two goals to make the victory for your national team," Gama said outside the stadium as adoring fans serenaded him and begged for autographs.

"I love everything the fans (of Toronto) have done for me. It made me more active.

"It was good to hear the support."

Gama's first came in the final minute of an opening half in which the pesky New Zealanders had at least minimized the effect of the Portuguese attack.

The captain calmly drilled a free kick from just outside the box past New Zealand 'keeper Jacob Spoonley into the top right corner.

The second was under a shroud, though for nothing Gama did.

Portugal was handed a gift penalty in the 59th minute after a player had allegedly been pulled down.

The New Zealanders were incensed, however, when referee Hernando Buitrago made the call after a long delay.

Gama easily found the bottom right corner but the score was called back for encroachment.

Awarded a second chance, Gama went the other way to finish off an easy score.

Though impressed with the at-times sublime skill of Coentrao, a player likened to Figo in his potential, the New Zealanders quickly tired of his antics.

It was Coentrao who went down as if shot -- though barely touched -- leading to Gama's penalty score.

Later in the half, he was carted off the field after barely being touched.

Less than a minute later, he was back on the field.

"To be honest, I wouldn't feel that I could keep my dignity if I went off on a stretcher and came back again," All Whites forward Craig Henderson said.

"But this is what happens on the world stage and it somehow became part of the game."

Meanwhile, Portuguese coach Jose Couceiro surely disappointed some in the crowd when he opted not to substitute in Toronto's Steven Vitoria late in the game.

"Vitoria is a good player," Couceiro said, offering not a hint of apology.

"He had an operation in March and the two players we have in the centre have played together since they were under 16.

"I am not going to change unless they do not play a very good match."


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