Ronaldo on target as Portugal ease into semifinals

Tammy Harvey
June 25, 2017

With hosts Russian Federation losing against Mexico in Kazan, Portugal progressed as Group A winners, while the All Whites finished bottom following a third straight defeat.

"Unfortunately, we didn't react to their goals and then had a man sent off, even then we tried to score".

Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal also qualified after battering New Zealand 4-0, recording 7 points like Mexico and topping their Group A.

Mexico will next face the winners of Group B in Sochi on Thursday, when Andres Guardado will be suspended because of yellow card accumulation.

While it was far from a poor display from the outmatched All Whites, it did see them finish the tournament with three defeats. Several players missed clear scoring opportunities throughout the match in front of 41,585 fans at Kazan Arena.

"It was an interesting match for sure, we knew we had to win and did everything to tip the game in our favour", said Cherchesov. "We are making steps in the right directions".

"We faced a rival that needed to win and had nothing to lose, and we competed very well against them", Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said.

"We are building a team which has the skills and determintion to play against any team. It was an important victory for Mexican football". After an encouraging display against Mexico, the Kiwis are aiming for their first win at Russian Federation 2017.

After conceding the first goal in the 25th minute, Mexico came from behind to beat the hosts.

The lead was short-lived, however, with Mexico swiftly equalising through a Nestor Araujo header, the centre-back directing a header past Russia's goalkeeper Akinfeev, although he did not seem to be going for goal. The ball took a high bounce and started to fall just at the edge of Akinfeev's box.

Ronaldo had already headed against the crossbar before firing Portugal ahead after Danilo went tumbling under a challenge from two defenders and the referee pointed to the spot without asking for a video replay.

New Zealand will have to settle for the chance to play the role of spoiler after losing both their games so far.

And then Russia's defense was caught sleeping.

Needing to bolt out of the blocks in the second spell, the All Whites didn't quite do that but were doing their utmost and 14 minutes into the half had their best chance of the night.

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