Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-2 Euro 2016 qualifying win over Armenia, but assistant coach Ilidio Vale was keen to praise all of his players.
Vale was leading the side due to Fernando Santos’ touchline ban, dating back to an offence at last year’s World Cup when he was in charge of Greece.
Saturday’s victory in Yerevan made it two wins from two for Vale, who also guided the Portuguese to a 2-1 success over Serbia last time out in qualifying.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick – his third in succession for club and country – followed a stunning free-kick opener from Marcos Pizzelli, before Tiago’s dismissal for two cautions and a close-range tap-in for Hrayr Mkoyan made for a tense finale before Portugal strengthened their position at the top of Group I.
“First, I want to thank Fernando Santos’ confidence to lead these two games,” Vale said. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to offer Fernando Santos, the federation, and Portugal, two wins, and have contributed to the approach of the first goal, which is to qualify for Euro 2016.
“We are very happy to have the best player in the world, he has contributed much to quality of the Portuguese team, but fundamentally we care about the collective game.
“Today’s game showed the quality of Cristiano Ronaldo, but also the Portuguese team. We had a tough game, and we had an attitude that is only available to the winners. And today we showed that we are winners.
“We knew Armenia very well, studied them very well. They have some great players of quality. It was a very difficult game.
“We played to win, played always looking for the best result and fortunately today, we managed it.
“We have a very strong spirit. For us the game only ends when the referee decides. It was necessary to know how to suffer, and we had a very strong collective spirit, and so we managed to win.
“The opponent had merit, and the sending off of Tiago was a remarkable moment. It was necessary to know how to fight, play with solidarity, and I think we got a deserved victory.”
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