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Portugal cruise into semi-finals

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo attempts to take the ball past New Zealand's Tommy Smith during their FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 encounter. Image: FIFA via Getty
  • Ronaldo’s second Confederations Cup goal gets Portugal started
  • Bernardo, Andre Silva & Nani open Russia 2017 accounts to see them into semi-final

Portugal saw off New Zealand 4-0 to win Group A and progress to the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 semi-finals, in front of 56,290 fans in Saint Petersburg.

Cristiano Ronaldo, with rumours abound of him being rested ahead of the game, started and was Portugal’s protagonist once more. He hit the crossbar with a header before converting a first-half penalty after Danilo had been felled by Tommy Smith.

Despite a bright start, Anthony Hudson’s side then conceded again within five minutes, with new Manchester City man Bernardo Silva converting Eliseu’s cross after the left-back’s purposeful run.

Fernando Santos’s side stood up well to some concerted pressure from the All Whites after the break, with Andre Silva and Nani’s first goals of Russia 2017, the latter coming in stoppage time, serving to rubberstamp all three points.

Santos was gracious in victory, praising both the Group A winners and the New Zealand side.

“We knew it could be complicated because we had seen New Zealand play Mexico and the problems they caused the Mexicans. So we were forewarned,” he said.

“I thought we played well in many parts of the game; in others not so well. Overall though, it was a fair victory. But I think the New Zealand team should have scored a goal – they deserved one. They proved on the field that they’re a team with a great spirit and real determination.”

Hudson also felt the scoreline was harsh on his team and said that he saw plenty of cause for encouragement in their performance.

“Overall, there were some really positive signs in the game,” he said.

“We started the game really well, and were the stronger of the two teams. But we had a period in that first half when we allowed them to come into the game and gave ourselves too much to do to get back into it.

“But the biggest positive for me today was that we never, ever accepted the result. Every player went right to the end and there are so many positives I can take.”

Topping the group means Portugal will face the runners-up of Group B in Kazan on Wednesday 28 June.

Story courtesy of FIFA

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