Portugal deserved victory: Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo heading home the only goal of the match as Portugal won their first match at the Confederations Cup, beating hosts Russia 1-0 on Wednesday. The Portuguese captain set up the opening goal in his side's earlier match, against Mexico,
Cristiano Ronaldo heading home the only goal of the match as Portugal won their first match at the Confederations Cup, beating hosts Russia 1-0 on Wednesday. The Portuguese captain set up the opening goal in his side's earlier match, against Mexico, which ended in a 2-2 draw on Sunday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Captain scores against Confederations Cup hosts Russia; no discussion about tax matters

MOSCOW • Cristiano Ronaldo insisted Portugal were worthy winners after scoring his first goal of the Confederations Cup to steer his country to a 1-0 victory over hosts Russia on Wednesday.

The Real Madrid star brushed off the tax storm clouding his club future by heading in the only goal in Moscow after just eight minutes to send the Euro 2016 champions above Russia in Group A.

The Portuguese are joint top on four points with Mexico, who beat New Zealand 2-1.

"We're very happy, it's the first time Portugal have won in Russia. The team played very well against a side playing at home with the support of their fans. But we were better, we had more chances," said Ronaldo.

"We won, we have four points and you have to congratulate our team," added the 32-year-old, named Man of the Match for the second time in the tournament.

The Portuguese camp had insisted ahead of this game that their skipper was focused solely on matters on the field in Russia despite the speculation surrounding his future at Real.

He has been accused by Spanish authorities of evading €14.7 million (S$22.8 million) in tax and has been summoned to appear in court next month in Madrid.​

  • 2 Man of the Match awards for Cristiano Ronaldo in two Confederations Cup matches in Russia.

The four-time Ballon d'Or winner has said his "conscience is clear" in the matter but has reportedly threatened to leave Real.

According to Spanish state TV on Wednesday, Ronaldo is, however, ready to pay the authorities the €14.7 million ahead of the court hearing.

Broadcaster TVE said, without identifying its sources, that Ronaldo would make the payment "as a gesture of goodwill".

The report added he would reiterate at the hearing on July 31 that he was innocent and had never hidden any income from authorities or committed any tax fraud in Spain.

Representatives for Ronaldo declined to comment.

Despite the off-field disruption, the Portuguese star also picked up the Man-of-the-Match award in his team's opening 2-2 draw with Mexico on Sunday.

And he was all smiles escorting a young mascot in a wheelchair out onto the pitch before he netted his first goal of the tournament at the home of Spartak Moscow.

But it was bad news for left-back Raphael Guerreiro, who will miss the rest of the Confederations Cup after the Portuguese revealed yesterday that he has been playing with a fractured leg for months.

The Borussia Dortmund defender had to be helped off in the second half in Moscow.

Guerreiro confirmed he had a fracture and implied he had been playing with the injury for weeks, which he aggravated before going off in the 65th minute.

"I have a fracture, but it happened three months ago," Guerreiro wrote on his official Instagram account. "Fortunately, the fracture is not causing me any pain, but I can't put my foot on the ground or move.

"I'll be behind my team-mates for the rest of the competition."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'Portugal deserved victory: Ronaldo'. Print Edition | Subscribe