Portugal coach Fernando Santos hit back at claims his team is dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo after they defeated Italy 1-0 in a friendly.
With the Real Madrid forward given a rest after scoring a hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-2 Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Armenia on Saturday, Santos selected Eder, Ricardo Quaresma and Silvestre Varela in a front three against Italy.
Eder scored the only goal of the game – his maiden strike at senior international level – and Santos vented some frustration at criticism his team is ‘Ronaldependente’ or Ronaldo dependent.
“Any team that has Ronaldo will always be ‘Ronaldependente’ or whatever dependent,” the 60-year-old coach said.
“What we showed today is that we are a team. Ronaldo himself mentioned it in the previous game, even after scoring three goals. And that today has again proved.”
Before Ronaldo’s hat-trick last week, Portugal had scored six goals in seven matches since last year’s World Cup, with two coming from their star captain and four from other players.
Santos added that Portugal were “deserved winners” and match-winner Eder agreed.
The Sporting Braga striker hit the back of the net in the 52nd minute, sliding in to divert Quaresma’s tantalising outside-of-the-right-boot cross into the net.
“It was a great game, we worked very well and came out with the win. We should be proud,” Eder said.
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