Confederations Cup: Cristiano Ronaldo runs the show for Portugal to defeat hosts Russia
Solitary goal is enough for Portugal to takes the points
Cristiano Ronaldo set aside his legal troubles to score the winning goal for Portugal on Wednesday in a 1-0 victory over hosts Russia in the Confederations Cup.
Ronaldo headed Portugal in front in the eighth minute at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium.
The European champions struggled to kill off the game despite several chances and could have conceded when Georgy Dzhikiya headed narrowly over in stoppage time.
A day after Ronaldo was summoned to court in Spain over allegations relating to a complex tax fraud, his goal was simple.
He found space on the right flank and crept in behind defender Fyodor Kudryashov to head in Raphael Guerreiro’s lofted cross at the far post.
It could have been 2-0 in the 50th if not for Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, playing his 100th international game, and his acrobatic one-handed save to keep out Adrien Silva’s header.
Russia were poor before half time and although they improved after it, they were repeatedly hit on the break as they committed men forward.
Ronaldo proved the main threat throughout the first half as the hosts offered little going forward, and he tested Akinfeev with a 25th-minute free kick before forcing the keeper to block with his legs seven minutes later.
Russia might have been level as the half-time whistle approached, but striker Fedor Smolov could not adjust his feet in time to steer Aleksandr Golovin’s cross on target.
Captain Akinfeev kept his side in it when he clawed away Silva’s 50th-minute header from close range, and he was in the right place at the right time to repel Cedric Soares long-range effort nine minutes later.
The Russians, who beat New Zealand 2-0 in their opening fixture, belatedly launched their push and might have been level just after the hour when Alexander Samedov’s teasing cross was only fractionally too high for Smolov in the middle.
But Ronaldo passed up a glorious opportunity to extend his side’s lead just past the hour when he headed wide from Andre Gomes’ cross as Portugal broke at pace.
However, it was Russia who finished strongly with substitute Aleksandr Bukharov appealing in vain for a last-gasp penalty after going down in the box before defender Georgy Dzhikya heading inches over Rui Patricio’s crossbar deep into injury time.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo is ready to pay Spain’s tax authorities the €14.7 million (Dh60.2m) – the amount he has been accused of defrauding by a prosecutor – ahead of the court hearing, Spanish state TV said last night.
Broadcaster TVE said, without identifying its sources, the 32-year-old would make this payment as a gesture of good will.
The report added Rolando will reiterate at a hearing on July 31 that he is innocent and has never hidden any income from the taxman or committed any tax fraud in Spain.
The Spanish prosecutor says the Real Madrid forward knowingly used a business structure to hide his image rights income in Spain between 2011 and 2014. Ronaldo has denied the charges.
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Published: June 21, 2017 04:00 AM