Ronaldo’s return lifts Portuguese squad

Sport360 staff 11:39 12/06/2014
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Up and running: Ronaldo managed 65 minutes for Portugal in their final warm-up match on Tuesday.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento was relieved to see captain Cristiano Ronaldo return to action after an injury layoff that had sparked fears that he might not be fit for Brazil.

Ronaldo had a hand in a goal and hit a post as Portugal concluded their World Cup preparations with a 5-1 romp over the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday. 

The Real Madrid forward, who missed his country’s previous two warm-up games because of thigh and knee injuries, was not at his brilliant best for long periods of a one-sided friendly in New Jersey.

Ronaldo was substituted on 65 minutes, but it appeared to have been a planned change and there was no indication that he was suffering any ill effects from his injury problems.

He was replaced by Real team-mate Pepe, a key defender and another whose World Cup preparations have been badly hindered by injury.

“Ronaldo played a good match, especially when considering that he has not played competitively for two weeks,” said Bento.  “Players like him are important for any team, and we are no different. It’s good to have him back.” 

Portugal start their World Cup assault against Germany on June 16 in Group G, which also includes the USA and Ghana.

Raul Meireles also returned to the side after injury, giving Bento a full squad to choose from for the first time in the build-up to Brazil.

“The players are all fit and we have no concerns,” said Bento. “That’s very positive.”

Manchester United winger Nani, who impressed in his cameo with two assists, also said it was “great” to have Ronaldo back.

“I think he showed he’s good, he’s well, and I think he showed he will be 100 per cent,” he said.

“We are in a tough group but when you are in the World Cup you know you have to challenge the best teams. We are ready for that and we are confident.”

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