Cristiano Ronaldo scored a penalty as Portugal beat New Zealand 4-0 to seal their semi-final place at the Confederations Cup. Ronaldo’s 33rd-minute goal was followed by strikes from Manchester City-bound Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva and Nani.
Mexico also progressed to the semi-finals as they knocked hosts Russia out of the tournament with a 2-1 victory. Portugal ensured top spot in Group A as New Zealand finished bottom after a third straight defeat.
However, defender Pepe will miss Portugal’s semi-final after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament. And there will be fitness concerns over Bernardo Silva, who was substituted at half-time because of an ankle injury.
Ronaldo expressed his delight at firing Portugal into the semi final after netting his 75th international goal in yesterday’s 4-0 thrashing of New Zealand. “I’m very happy to be in the semifinals. We’re confident and want to win,” said Ronaldo, who picked up his third straight man-of-the-match award in Russia.
The 32-year-old has a court date in Madrid next month, accused by Spanish authorities of tax evasion, and the fallout has resulted in Ronaldo threatening to leave Real.
Despite the off-field turmoil and constant speculation about his future, the Portugal captain has dazzled on the pitch in Russia and scored two goals in three matches.
“I thought we played well in many parts of the game; in others, not so well. Overall though, it was a fair victory,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
Ronaldo’s latest goal sent him level with Hungary great Sandor Kocsis and to within nine of the legendary Ferenc Puskas’ European record of 84 at international level.