Cristiano Ronaldo says Portugal still have plenty of room for improvement, despite their 1-0 success over Morocco on Wednesday.
“I’m very happy. The most important thing was to win the game and to get the three points,” Ronaldo said after a hard-fought victory.
“We knew if we lost we could be out. We knew Morocco would be giving their all. It was a surprise at the start because they were so strong.
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“I managed to score a goal, it was great for me.”
Portugal’s final group stage encounter is against Iran on June 25 in Saransk, and Ronaldo hopes his team can top their group.
“Our expectation is to continue our work and try to improve in the group phase,” Ronaldo said.
“We’re almost there (knockout stages) and then we’ll see. We’ll take things match after match. We will try to come first in the group.”
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The 33-year-old’s fourth minute bullet header winner was remarkably his 85th international goal, taking him ahead of legend Ferenc Puskas (84 goals in 89 caps for Hungary and Spain between 1945-62) in the overall European goalscoring stakes.
He now leads the Europe list, with Ronaldo’s record haul coming from 152 matches.
The Real Madrid legend made his international debut way back in 2003 and will be gunning for World Cup success this summer, following on from Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph two years ago.
In the grand scheme of things, Ronaldo now stands at number two in the all-time international goalscoring charts. Only Iran hero Ali Daei, who struck 109 goals in 149 matches, is ahead of him.
Patrice Evra has called his former Manchester United teammate and current Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo an “angry man” after revealing he once trained for two weeks at home because Rio Ferdinand beat him – at a game of table tennis.
In a revealing insight to the character of a player who has won a joint record amount of Balon d’Or titles (five alongside Lionel Messi) – Evra told ITV the Portugal powerhouse has an insatiable desire to succeed, at anything it seems.
Evra, who spent eight years at Old Trafford and three with a precocious but supremely talented Ronaldo, said: “With Rio Ferdinand, they were playing table tennis and Rio beat him (Ronaldo), and we were all screaming and Ronaldo was so upset,” he told ITV.
“Then he sent his cousin to buy a tennis table, he trained for two weeks at home and he came back and he beat Rio in front of everyone.
“That’s Cristiano Ronaldo, so that’s why I’m not surprised today why he wants to win another golden ball, why he wants to win the World Cup. Because he’s an angry man.”
Despite being 33, Ronaldo shows no signs of slowing down, scoring 44 goals in 44 games for Los Blancos this season, helping them win the Champions League.
And he was at his devastating best as he scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s 2018 World Cup-opener with Spain on Friday, his third a stunning free-kick in the game’s dying embers as Fernando Santos’ side rescued a 3-3 draw.
Ronaldo’s work ethic is well known in football, and is something he developed and honed while learning the game in England.
He would often stay after training for hours and practice free-kicks – Evra revealed he even wanted to train during meal time, having once invited the Frenchman over for lunch.
“I would give advice to anybody, when Cristiano invites you for lunch at his house, just say no,” Evra joked.
“So he said, ‘Patrice, come over after training.’ I went, you know I was really tired, [and] at the table there was only salad and plain white chicken so I was like, okay, and water, not any juice and we started eating and I was thinking some big meat would be coming after that but there was nothing.
“He just finished and he stood up and he started playing with a ball, doing some skills and he said ‘Let’s do some two-touch.’
“I was like, can I just finish eating? ‘No, no let’s play two-touch,’ we start playing two-touch. After that he said let’s go to the pool to swim, I was like okay… And after going in the jacuzzi, the sauna, I’m done.
“I say, ‘Cristiano why have we come here, have we come here because we have a game tomorrow, or just for lunch?’
“So that’s why I would recommend to anyone when Cristiano invites you to his house, don’t go – just say no because this guy, he’s a machine, he doesn’t want to stop training.”