Luis Figo demonstrated his immense value to Portugal's cause on Sunday by orchestrating the 1-0 win over Angola in their World Cup opener.
The Portugal captain set up Pauleta's goal in the fourth minute and tormented Angola's defence throughout the Group D showdown against his country's former colony.
"Normally in these kinds of situations we don't start well," man of the match Figo said. "We had to change that so it was important to score first."
Figo sliced open the defence with a powerful run to leave Pauleta with a simple tap-in, living up to coach Luis Felipe Scolari's claims he has improved since 2004.
"It was not an easy game," said the 33-year-old, who had threatened to retire from international football after Euro 2004.
"In the first half, we controlled the game. In the second half we had phases where we played well and not so well. But in general we had more chances.
"We should have scored more but the important thing is to create chances."
Portugal struggled to impose their authority on Angola following Pauleta's early strike but Figo said they would improve in their next game against Iran on Saturday.
"We have to be happy with the result because it's always important to win the first game," said the former world player of the year.
"We will get better. We are working towards going a long way in the tournament."
Reluctant to talk about his own role in Portugal's opening victory, Figo said he was feeling sharp after two weeks of intense World Cup build-up.
"I'm happy because I'm working hard to get fit," he said after winning his 121st cap. "After the hard season I had in Italy I prepared really hard the last 15 days to be fit."
Source: China Daily