Portugal coach Fernando Santos hailed Cristiano Ronaldo after his goalless performance against Poland in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, insisting his captain does not have to score to have a good game.
Ronaldo scored Portugal’s first penalty of the shoot-out, which they won 5-3, after the sides were tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes of open play in Marseille on Thursday.
Robert Lewandowski scored the opener for Poland less than two minutes after the game started before Renato Sanches levelled just before half-time.
And while Ronaldo did not have his best night in front of goal, Santos was full of praise for his skipper, who he said was inspirational alongside fellow Real Madrid man Pepe in defence.
“I don’t talk about Individuals but Pepe and Cristiano played an amazing game, I think people undervalue them. People focus on CR – he has to score goals, goals, goals, but he has been playing amazing, he’s an amazing captain,” he said.
“Pepe was immense. The first few mins didn’t go our way; it was an experience for our players as they have reached this stage for the first time, some of their heads are up in the clouds as they are dreaming about what’s happened.
“We got our feet back on the ground and we managed to play our type of football.”
Goalscorer Sanches, who showed maturity beyond his 18 years to coolly slot his team’s second penalty, also came in for high praise.
“Renato played a great game, he still has a lot to offer, he’s still growing, the Renato Sanches you saw today is not the finished article, he will be better in the future,” he said.
“I said the same thing about Ricardo Carvalho when he was 18. Renato is still growing, he’ll have to take all his qualities, put it all on the pitch and it’s my job to help him. He’s an amazing player, when he gets older he’ll come into his own.”
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