Ronaldo records raise Portugal's hopes at World Cup
June 21 2018 10:58 AM
Ronaldo
Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo seen during their match against Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday.

dpa/Moscow

*Cristiano Ronaldo's goals are boosting expectations that Portugal can do well at the World Cup, two years after their Euro 2016 title

There are figures for everything in football these days, and statisticians Opta have noted that Cristiano Ronaldo has scored with his left foot, right foot and head at the World Cup in Russia.
According to Opta, the last player from Portugal to do the same at the global event was Jose Torres in 1966.
This could be a good omen because that tournament 52 years ago in England marked Portugal's best ever showing in the form of third place by the Eusebio-led team.
The class of 2018 has Ronaldo written all over it.
The Real Madrid superstar, commonly known as CR7, scored a hat-trick in the opening 3-3 draw with Spain, using his feet to convert a free-kick, a penalty and score from a distance. 
A header followed on Wednesday for a 1-0 win over Morocco which leaves the team well-positioned to reach the last 16 and to aim even higher, two years after winning a first major title at Euro 2016.
"Oasis, not desert," local A Bola sports daily wrote on Thursday in reference to the expected progression into the final group game against Iran on Monday - after Portugal were ousted early in 2014.
Record meanwhile simply ran the words "CR7 Total" across the front page as Ronaldo's goal in Moscow made him the most successful European scorer of all time, with now 85 international goals, one more than former Hungary and Spain legend Ferenc Puskas.
Whether the 33-year-old can also match the world record 109 goals from Iran's Ali Daei remains to be seen, but for now his goals appear to be needed to make the difference.
He had two further chances against Morocco, and the only other noteworthy opportunity came from Goncalo Guedes, but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui.
"I am very happy. The most important thing was to win the game and make the three points," Ronaldo said. 
"We are almost there. We are thinking match after match. We drew the first, won the second, now we hope to finish first in the group."
Portugal have big aims after the Euro title, but they first will need to beat Iran, who are just one point behind them and were unlucky to lose 1-0 against Spain in the other Wednesday game.
For that they would need a better performance than against Morocco, who generated half a dozen top chances against a hesitant Portugal.
"I am not happy with the performance of my team," coach Fernando Santos said, not pleased they lost control of the match like against Spain: "We lost the dynamics, were slow and there was a lot of anxiety."
Probably thinking back to their Euro 2016 games, Santos said things will get easier if they get beyond the group stage, and that he will aim to keep the players mentally fresh. 
On Ronaldo's freshness, he has no concerns though, saying: "He is in very good form. The team benefits and I believe it will continue to benefit.
"Cristiano is like a port wine: He knows how to refine his capacity and age at his best."



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