Responding to calls about dropping Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal manager Fernando Santos has hinted that he will continue to keep trust in his 37-year-old talisman.
Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo started in Portugal’s UEFA Nations League Group A2 matchday six clash against Spain on Tuesday night (September 27). The five-time Ballon d’Or winner struggled to find his footing, squandering a couple of good chances to put the Navigators on the scoresheet.
Alvaro Morata found the back of the net for Spain in the 88th minute, sealing a 1-0 win for La Roja and booking their place in the final four of the UEFA Nations League.
After the match, Santos was quizzed about the fate of Cristiano Ronaldo and about whether or not he would consider dropping him. Santos said that he was more concerned with his team’s collective performance, hinting that he might not make the impossible call of dropping Ronaldo.
In his post-match press conference, he said (via the Manchester Evening News):
“What interests me is how the team played. Ronaldo had three or four chances. Two very good ones, which he usually scores. He didn't score. It's football. This is the second time we've conceded a goal right at the end [after the Serbia defeat]. If we have to defend we should defend with everything. The players and I are devastated at the end of this game.”
Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes backs under-fire skipper Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo squandered two glit-edged opportunities to find the back of the net for Portugal on Tuesday. In the 47th minute, he was played through on goal by Diogo Jota, but his left-footed effort was straight at Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon. Right at the death (90th minute), Ronaldo got an opportunity to equalize, but his shot at the near post was easily saved by the Spanish shotstopper.
Ronaldo has faced criticism for his lackluster display against Enrique’s team, but Manchester United and Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes has backed him to regain his goalscoring touch. Speaking to Diario Record (via United in Focus), Fernandes said:
“It wasn’t just Cristiano who failed. We all tried and we couldn’t. The Spain goalkeeper did very well. Cristiano is fine, with the ambition to help the national team, as he always has been and there is no need to make great stories."
“Cristiano was frustrated, just like the rest of us. He wants to score goals and the goals are going to come along. These are phases. When you score you will have more peace of mind to continue scoring many goals for us. Don’t forget you’re the goal-scoring record holder for the team.”