Portugal head-coach Fernando Santos has defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal drought and stated that the player played through the pain barrier as Portugal beat Albania to go three points clear at the top of Group I.
Portugal came into the Albania tie just a point ahead of the Balkan side and two ahead of Denmark. With a narrow 1-0 win, the side captained by Cristiano Ronaldo have breathing space between them and the chasing pack.
However, the worry for Portugal has been the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Real Madrid star now going four games without a goal this season.
Santos defends Ronaldo
Defending his captain, who missed a glaring opportunity to end his goal drought, Portugal manager Fernando Santos was quoted as saying by Goal.com . : “He’s a player who scores 50 goals a season, so it’s not surprising that it causes some anxiety when he goes a few games without a goal.
“He showed a fantastic, sacrificial spirit because he was experiencing some pain but gave everything in the game. The goals will come.
“Sometimes anxiety plays its part in stopping goals being scored, but he’s just saving himself up for the right time.”
Denmark clash like a final: Santos
October’s clash against Denmark is crucial for Portugal to ensure qualification for EURO 2016 and Santos has urged his team to treat the game like a do-or-die clash.
“We have to face Denmark like it’s a final,” he said. “Victory is always important. We took an important step, but still nothing is decided.
“We played well against a good Albania team, but the team always believed and we ended up being happy.”
Portugal are on the brink of qualification for the tournament proper, and a win against Denmark in October would officially confirm their passage to the EURO finals in France next summer.