Ronaldo helps Portugal into Semis, Russia out

Claudine Rigal
Juin 26, 2017

The relaid pitch at the St Petersburg stadium was criticised again on Saturday, this time by Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Fernando Santos after their 4-0 win over New Zealand in the Confederations Cup.

While Cristiano Ronaldo was named man of the match for the third time in a row - having started the rout with a first-half penalty - two of Portugal's newer generation had more convincing claims to the headlines and suggested they could be in the starting lineup to stay.

Nani finished off the game for Portugal with the fourth goal.

"I helped the team, I scored the opening goal and I had a few more chances", the four-time Ballon d'Or victor said after the victory. It was a momentous day nonetheless for Tim Cahill, who became the first outfield player to win 100 Socceroos caps. "We know that in the semi-finals both Chile and Germany are great teams, but we are confident".

Mexico will meet the winners of Group B - which will nearly certainly be Chile or Germany - in their last-four encounter in Sochi on Thursday, but Hernandez is not concerned about which team they face.

The team said Chicharito's absence was a precaution. Believe me - we'll analyse things when passions calm down.

"It's another phase, totally different, but the aim is to win".

"We have the most trendy journalists nowadays", he told a news conference.

The veteran forward has always worked well as Ronaldo's partner up front, helping create scoring opportunities and being precise with his finishing in front of the goal.

"We definitely want to be back here next year [for the World Cup] and we will take some of the positives out of Mexico and this game back home and work on them".

"At 2-0 we could have kept the scoreline respectable, but we didn't", he said.

"Maybe you saw the reply, but as the game progressed, I indicated to the referee I thought it should have been replayed". Overall though, it was a fair victory.

As they had done against Mexico, New Zealand was trying to play and managed to make some inroads into the Portuguese territory, with one diagonal pass from Thomas to Ingham comparable to anything seen at this tournament.

Mexico star Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez trained separately from his teammates on Monday because of muscle fatigue, the latest concern for a Mexican team that has been struck by injuries at the Confederations Cup.

New Zealand, beaten 2-0 by Russian Federation and 2-1 by Mexico earlier in the week, finished bottom.

"We have to drill down into every detail and analyse all three matches and hold ourselves to account".

But Hudson took encouragement from the All Whites' performance against the European champions.

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