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New Zealand vs Portugal Live

New Zealand vs Portugal Live-National Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) Portugal coach Fernando Santos could deny himself the pleasure of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo play against New Zealand on Saturday.

After promising to rotate his starting lineup for a third Confederations Cup game in seven days, Santos would not confirm if that means rest for his 32-year-old star.

”Everybody wants to watch Cristiano Ronaldo, even I want to watch Cristiano Ronaldo,” the coach said Friday, smiling when asked how Russia’s enthusiasm for the current world’s best player compared to other countries.

”I don’t know if I’m going to play with Cristiano or without Cristiano,” Santos said through a translator. ”Obviously, rotation will take place, that I can tell you.”

Portugal has the luxury to choose because of Ronaldo’s decisive header early in a 1-0 win over Russia on Wednesday – his 74th goal in 141 national-team games.

The European champion has four points in Group A and needs only a draw against No. 95-ranked New Zealand to advance to the semifinals.

One reason Ronaldo is strong deep into June is because Real Madrid managed his playing time more carefully this season. He peaked from April onward with a rush of Champions League goals, including two in the final to help beat Juventus 4-1.

Santos also noted his team’s Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule so far in three different Russian cities.

”It’s less than 72 hours to recover, it’s not easy,” said the coach, who steered his team to the Euro 2016 title over seven games in a 27-day period in France.

Still, the lone New Zealand reporter at the tournament insisted at the pre-match news conference that more than four million people back home want to see Ronaldo face the All Whites for the first time.

”It’s many, many millions who every time Cristiano plays are very interested in watching him play,” Santos said. ”I’m glad that also happens in New Zealand.”

New Zealand is already eliminated after losing both games, though unsettled Mexico in a 2-1 defeat. The North American champion had rested several players who started in a 2-2 draw against Portugal, including forward Javier ”Chicharito” Hernandez.

”They complicated life for Mexico a lot,” Santos acknowledged. ”The result could have been quite different.”

Portugal will be without Raphael Guerreiro on Saturday, though the Borussia Dortmund defender could return in the tournament. Santos said a suspected leg fracture sustained against Russia was not as serious as feared.

Graham Dunbar is at www.twitter.com/gdunbarap

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup

”I don’t know if I’m going to play with Cristiano or wt Cristiano,” Santos said through a translator. ”Obviously, rotation will take place, that I can tell you.”Portugal has the luxury to choose because of Ronaldo’s decisive header early in a 1-0 win over Russia on Wednesday – his 74th goal in 141 national-team games.

The European champion has four points in Group A and needs only a draw against No. 95-ranked New Zealand to advance to the semifinals.

One reason Ronaldo is strong deep into June is because Real Madrid managed his playing time more carefully this season. He peaked from April onward with a rush of Champions League goals, including two in the final to help beat Juventus 4-1.

Santos also noted his team’s Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule so far in three different Russian cities.

”It’s less than 72 hours to recover, it’s not easy,” said the coach, who steered his team to the Euro 2016 title over seven games in a 27-day period in France.

Still, the lone New Zealand reporter at the tournament insisted at the pre-match news conference that more than four million people back home want to see Ronaldo face the All Whites for the first time.

”It’s many, many millions who every time Cristiano plays are very interested in watching him play,” Santos said. ”I’m glad that also happens in New Zealand.”

New Zealand is already eliminated after losing both games, though unsettled Mexico in a 2-1 defeat. The North American champion had rested several players who started in a 2-2 draw against Portugal, including forward Javier ”Chicharito” Hernandez.

”They complicated life for Mexico a lot,” Santos acknowledged. ”The result could have been quite different.”

Portugal will be without Raphael Guerreiro on Saturday, though the Borussia Dortmund defender could return in the tournament. Santos said a suspected leg fracture sustained against Russia was not as serious as feared.

 

New Zealand vs Portugal Live

Greetings one and all and welcome to MirrorFootball’s live coverage of New Zealand’s Confederations Cup clash with Portugal.

In this barren footballing summer, we’re having to get our kicks from the ongoing tournament which is reaching the end of the group stage.

Group A comes to a close today with Portugal knowing that a point will enough to claim a semi-final place, regardless of what happens in the other match between Mexico and Russia

Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo put the rampant speculation over his future to one side earlier this week when he netted the only goal in a 1-0 win over the hosts to put his country in the box seat for a last-four berth.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has promised to talk to his star man after the tournament and resolve his Bernabeu future, but will he go back to Spain with another winners’ medal in his pocket?

The Portuguese are heavy favourites to take all three points against a New Zealand side that has lost both their games so far, but Chris Wood and company will be hoping to stun the European champions.

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