Portugal found a new hero at their hour of need as their striker Pauleta ended Poland's World Cup with a superb hat-trick.

After their miserable defeat by the USA, Portugal needed a new star to shine out from the clouds that have shrouded their under-performing players, and the Bordeaux striker, joint top scorer in France last season, answered the call.

With Luis Figo looking sharper, though nowhere near his best, and a much-improved defence marshalled by Fernando Couto, the Poles were rarely in the hunt.

As the monsoon broke in Korea, so Poland's hopes went down the drain and Rui Costa poured on the misery with a late fourth.

After being outclassed by the hosts in the opening game, Poland had tried to ruffle Portugal's feathers by flying into tackles and closing down space.

It worked, but only for a time, and Portugal began to exert their will. It was 29-year-old Pauleta, one of the few Portuguese players to have had a half-decent game in the 3-2 defeat by the US, who had two shots in quick succession from distance, one off-target and the second looped straight to Jerzy Dudek.

In the 13th minute, he did finally beat Dudek. Frechaut had just come on to the field after receiving treatment for an injury when the ball fortuitously arrived at his feet.

Joao Pinto picked up possession infield and curled a cross to Pauleta who controlled the ball on his knee, rounded Tomasz Hajto and belted it past Dudek at the Liverpool keeper's near-post.

The Poles tried to step up the pressure as the heavens opened but their final ball was too often wasted. Emmanuel Olisadebe looked their best hope of a reply, but his drive from the edge of the box was fielded by Vitor Baia.

Figo tested Dudek with a low, skimming free-kick before, as the first half drew to a close, Joao Pinto was the victim of a nasty assault by centre-back Tomasz Hajto, who first tripped and then deliberately trod on the writhing striker, but the incident was not spotted by Scottish referee Hugh Dallas.

Olisadebe, Marek Kozminski and Jacek Krzynowek failed to break their scoring duck after an energetic start to the restart, and when they did get the ball in the net it was ruled out for a Kryszalowicz foul on Baia, though it was case of the goalkeeper being over-protected rather than the Pole using excessive force.

After 64 minutes, Portugal and more specifically Figo, finally came alive again.

Olisadebe lost possession in his opponents' half, Petit fed Beto who picked out Figo's run down the right and the world player of the year provided the telling cross for Pauleta to beat Dudek from close range for his second of the game.

In their next attack Figo nearly provided the finish his country's fans were demanding. This time Pauleta was the provider, rolling the ball along the edge of the box for the Real Madrid star Figo to strike a firm, curling shot which went past Dudek but smacked off the post.

Pauleta's hat-trick goal came with 15 minutes left. Rui Costa, only a substitute today, played a lovely cross-field ball, but there was still plenty for Pauleta to do - which he did, sending Tomasz Waldoch the wrong way and then firing past Dudek.

Kryszalowicz skied a shot over the bar from six yards out, while Pauleta could have had a personal tally of four after rounding Dudek but failed to find the target.

Rui Costa provided the grandstand finish though. Capucho burst through down the right and the AC Milan midfielder beat Pauleta to the cross to leave Dudek with no chance.

It could have been five when Rui Costa left Dudek sprawling in injury-time, but his effort was feeble and cleared off the line.