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Portugal celebrate national holiday with victory

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10 Jun 2013 20:47:44

Portugal celebrate national holiday with victory

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo gave his homeland some welcome joy on their national holiday as his first-half strike gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Croatia in a friendly played in Geneva on Monday.

Paulo Bento's side enjoyed their second victory in just three days as they followed their much more important World Cup qualifying win over Russia on Friday with another successful evening's work thanks to Ronaldo's 39th international goal.

Croatia meanwhile suffer back to back defeats after their shock 1-0 home loss against Scotland which leaves them three points back of Belgium in Group A and the automatic berth for next year's finals in Brazil.

Ronaldo fired home the only goal of the match 10 minutes before the break and celebrated exuberantly in front of the Croatia fans after being on the receiving end of constant abuse and chants of "Messi" from the travelling supporters.

Having said how he was "proud to play in front of the Portuguese community in Switzerland", the atmosphere was in stark contrast to the Santiago Bernabeu as a half empty stadium of some 13,000 in the Swiss capital provided the support for the two World Cup hopefuls.

After a couple more half chances for the former Manchester United striker, he was taken off at half-time by Bento as both coaches made a series of changes.

Croatia had a golden chance to draw level with 20 minutes remaining when Hrvoje Milic struck a fierce drive but Portugal survived the scare and can now look forward to their next qualifier on September 6 when they travel to Northern Ireland, who held them to a surprise draw in their home match.

They lead Russia at the top of Group F by two points having played two games more.

The country's National Day or Portugal Day is recognised on June 10 and commemorates the death of literary icon Luis de Cameoes who died in 1580.


AFP

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