“Just GOAT things”, “True leader” – Fans salute Cristiano Ronaldo for his influence off the bench to help Portugal avoid defeat against Spain in UEFA Nations League game

Portugal fans praise impact of Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal fans praise impact of Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo helped his Portugal side snatch a point against Spain in Seville in their UEFA Nations League opener on June 2.

Spain took the lead after 25 minutes after Alvaro Morata converted an excellent counter-attack. The hosts dominated possession throughout, but wasted several big chances.

Barcelona wonderkid Gavi pulled the strings from midfield for last season's runners-up. However, Cristiano Ronaldo coming on just after the hour-mark appeared to change the momentum of the encounter.

Portugal level up the scores through Ricardo Horta - his first goal for his country! 🙌

The Spaniard's inability to kill-off their old rivals came back to bite them late on. Ricardo Horta scored an 82nd-minute equaliser for Fernando Santos' side, eight years after he made his first and most recent appearance for his country.

Portugal, inaugural UEFA Nations League winners, held on to avoid defeat as they host Switzerland next on Sunday, 6 June.

With the Euro 2016 winners playing four games in ten days, Ronaldo was originally rested with future games in mind. However, with his side being largely dominated, Santos brought on the iconic forward after just an hour in an attempt to salvage something from the encounter.

39-year-old Pepe immediately handed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner the captain's armband when he came on. Following the encounter, supporters took to Twitter to praise the impact that the 37-year-old made on the clash against Portugal's neighbours:

Cristiano Ronaldo walks onto the pitch and Portugal get the equalizer Goat Influence 🐐
Cristiano Ronaldo comes on and Portugal draw… A true leader 🐐
The first rule of any team should give ALL the balls to Cristiano Ronaldo, you’ll see how good it will be for everyone
Cristiano Ronaldo had to drop deep to the midfield attracting Spanish defenders so that Joao Cancelo and Horta could come out with that equalizer. Just GOAT things #CristianoRonaldo𓃵 #CR7𓃵 #Portugal #UEFANationsLeague
Ronaldo changing a game against Spain at 37 is crazy.
Ronaldo dropping deep and 5 spain players follow him and Portugal immediately score his off the ball movement is so fucking good
Portugal was losing and Ronaldo was brought on. Man took away 5 players and they scored. Goat Effect 🐐🔥

Portugal boss Fernando Santos says Spain result was not good

The visitors were outplayed for large parts of the tie and have now not beaten their great Iberian rivals in a competitive game since Euro 2004.

Speaking after the game, boss Fernando Santos told RTP (as per Renascnca):

"Of course it's not an interesting result for us. Thank God that the work of this group made a draw with Spain interesting."

The 67-year-old added:

"In the second half we started well, with more possession, forcing Spain to open spaces. Then it seemed clear to me that it was necessary to have two runners, like Horta and Gonçalo Guedes, and that worked. Solutions".

After they host the Swiss on Sunday, A Selecao travel to the Czech Republic four days later, before finally ending their campaign away in Switzerland.

Ronaldo and Co. have been placed in a tricky-looking Group H at the Qatar World Cup later this year, alongside Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.

Spain and Portugal face off in the Nations League today Throwback to Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunner at the 2018 World Cup 🎯(via @FIFAWorldCup)

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Edited by Puranjay Dixit
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