Portugal target 5 more wins in World Cup quest

Captain Cristiano Ronaldo netted Portugal's second goal in their 3-0 win over Hungary. He also scored their third goal, and had a hand in the opening strike.
Captain Cristiano Ronaldo netted Portugal's second goal in their 3-0 win over Hungary. He also scored their third goal, and had a hand in the opening strike.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LISBON • Portugal manager Fernando Santos has told his players there is still room for improvement, as they prepare for five more finals in their quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup Finals.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two stunning goals and took his international tally to 70, as he led Portugal to an emphatic 3-0 win over Hungary on Saturday.

The Portugal captain scored from 25 metres after he was set up by an outrageous back-heel from Andre Silva, and then smashed in a long-range free kick in the second half.

Silva had opened the scoring from a move in which Ronaldo also played a part. The win kept the European champions three points behind Group B leaders Switzerland, who earlier beat Latvia 1-0 to maintain their 100 per cent record with 15 points from five games.

Switzerland had beaten Santos' men 2-0 in Basel last year but the two sides will meet again in Portugal in October.

"We had six finals. From this point, we have five left to reach our goal of reaching the World Cup from first place in our group," the manager told Portuguese national broadcaster RTP.

  • 70
    Number of goals Cristiano Ronaldo has scored for Portugal in 137 appearances.

"Hungary tried to block our way but we adapted very well to the three central midfielders and we did not allow them to come out and play.

"After the first goal, the game was unlocked and we found our way through much better. In the second half we always had the game under control. It was a fair victory, with some good things and some things we can do even better."

Next up for Portugal is a friendly against Sweden on Tuesday in Ronaldo's home island of Madeira.

Portugal's all-time top scorer can add to his haul but insisted that his goal record is not the focus.

"I know how many goals I have but that's not the most important thing," the Real Madrid star told RTP. "What matters is that we won and we're in the fight to go to the World Cup.

"We started out timid. We were slow to react to their tactics, but everything changed with the first goal. The team played better, more confidently, and the goals came naturally.

"The team is good. We have a lot of young players."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2017, with the headline 'Portugal target 5 more wins in World Cup quest'. Print Edition | Subscribe