GENEVA, Switzerland The relative rookie wanted to pat himself and his Portuguese teammates on their collective backs. The veteran was more cautious after a 2-0 victory over Turkey in the European Championship.
Pepe, who scored Portugal's first goal in his first major competition for his nation, couldn't spread enough praise.
"I can hardly describe the emotion I'm feeling," Pepe said. "We played as a real team and that's important. We knew sooner or later we would score a goal. Today, I must stress that it was the team spirit that prevailed. We deserve to be congratulated for our great display."
Portugal threatened the Turkish goal time and again, also getting a second-half goal from Raul Meireles to put it atop Group A.
Pepe, a Brazil-born central defender playing in his first major competition for Portugal, scored from inside the area after a passing combination with Nuno Gomes. Pepe beat defender Emre Asik to the ball and sent a right-footed shot into the net.
Meireles added another in injury time off a crisp three-way passing play with star Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Moutinho.
"I don't think this victory makes us a favorite," Ronaldo said. "We have to think one game at a time. But it was important to play well and keep us motivated for the rest of the competition."
Portugal, hoping to repeat its successful campaigns at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup it lost to Greece in the final four years ago at home, then reached the semifinals of the World Cup in Germany, losing to France dominated all game. It came out pressuring and controlled possession from the beginning at the 30,000-capacity Stade de Geneve.
Portugal and the Czech Republic, both with three points, lead the group.
Turkey, in its first major competition since reaching the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup, and the co-host Swiss have no points.
"It's not easy to play with Portugal," Turkey coach Fatih Terim said. "They have world-known players and they're one of the favorites of the tournament. Despite that we tried to defend and set up attacks."And despite not playing his best, Ronaldo had some of the match's most dangerous chances. He failed to capitalize on them, but did begin the attack on the second goal, breaking downfield, then passing to Moutinho. The ball wound up with Meireles and he clinched the win.
CZECH REPUBLIC 1, SWITZERLAND 0: At Basel, Switzerland, Vaclav Sverkos made his first goal for the Czech Republic a memorable one, scoring the winner in the opening match of the European Championship.
Sverkos, making only his fourth appearance for the national team, scored from 16 yards with the outside of his right foot in the 71st minute, shortly after coming on as a substitute.
Sverkos ran onto Tomas Galasek's superb header after beating the offside trap and put the ball to the left of Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio with the outside of his right foot.The Swiss desperately attacked seeking a tying goal but were at a distinct disadvantage without captain and leading scorer Alexander Frei. The 28-year-old striker injured his right knee and was taken off the field in tears shortly before halftime. He returned to the bench on crutches.
Saturday's results Group A
Switzerland 0, Czech Republic 1
Austria vs. Croatia, 10 a.m.
Germany vs. Poland, 12:45 p.m.