Ronaldo, Nani on Target as Portugal Ease to Semi-Final

Solenn Plantier
Juin 25, 2017

Portugal cruised into the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup as Group A winners after Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva and Nani secured a 4-0 victory over New Zealand on Saturday.

Portugal's all-time leading scorer swept the ball home in the 33rd minute, his 75th goal for his country, and Bernardo Silva added the second four minutes later.

Portugal beat hosts Russian Federation 1-0 in Moscow on Wednesday, putting them on four points in Group A, level with Mexico but behind on goals scored, following their 2-2 opening game draw against El Tri.

Portugal's 4-0 victory over New Zealand consigned Mexico to a runners-up finish in Group A, setting up a semifinal match against, most likely, either Germany or Chile. Pepe promptly found his way into referee Mark Geiger's book for a painfully late challenge on Thomas Doyle; it was his second yellow card of the tournament and means he will miss Wednesday's semifinal in Kazan, which is likely to be against Chile or Germany.

The All Whites nearly had the final say, with Michael Boxall's shot from four yards blocked on the Portuguese line, before Nani crunching 90th minute strike.

Just before Nani's late intervention, New Zealand again almost earned reward for their impressive endeavour when a Tuiloma long throw caused problems for Portugal and Wood headed back across the face of goal to Michael Boxall, who turned the ball goalwards but saw his shot saved right on the line.

Perhaps it's harsh to be too critical of an All Whites team that impressed with their grit and determination in their first two matches, hard-fought defeats to hosts Russian Federation and Mexico.

The man himself did not go that far but did take consolation in the fact he had go through three games without any obvious errors and reflected on the team's all-round display in similarly lukewarm fashion.

His sharp headers could have turned a comfortable win into a rout. Ronaldo shot high to Marinovic's left as the goalkeeper dived right.

Marinovic impressed and made eight saves, using his big body to block second-half shots by Andre Silva and Nani.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 21: Cedric of Portugal attempts to shoot while he is closed down by the Russia defence during the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Group A match between Russia and Portugal at Spartak Stadium on June 21, 2017 in Moscow, Russia.

New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson called it "an incredible sign of respect" to see the strong Portugal lineup on arriving at the stadium.

Russia's Alexander Samedov, left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Mexico and Russia, at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Saturday, June 24, 2017.

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