No Ronaldo, no problem as Portugal beat Nigeria 4-0



Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was missed through illness, but a Bruno Fernandes brace helped Portugal put Nigeria lightly tasked with a 4-0 win in Thursday’s friendly.

Portugal has warmed up in Fernando Santos’s Globalism trophy with victory in Lisbon, although preparations for the match were overshadowed by an explosive interview Ronaldo gave earlier in the week.

The 37-year-old striker criticized his club, Manchester United, as they fell out of favor under new manager Erik ten Hag, before suffering from gastroenteritis.

It took just nine minutes to break the deadlock against Nigeria, who failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

Two of Ronaldo’s Manchester United team-mates got together, with Diogo Dalot setting Fernandes up for the finish after racing onto Joao Felix’s superb pass.

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Felix, often sidelined at Atletico Madrid, was on form to ensure Ronaldo didn’t miss, while Fernandez took over the captaincy’s penalty kick duties to score his second goal before the break.

The frosty interaction in the dressing room between Ronaldo and Fernandes made headlines earlier in the week, but it was the midfielder who stepped up to put the spotlight on Nigeria.

Fernandez shot on target just before the break, and missed a good opportunity to complete a hat-trick in the first half.

Ronaldo, the country’s record appearance-maker and the world’s all-time leading scorer for men with 191 goals, is set to return for Portugal’s World Cup opener against Ghana on November 24, although the team wowed fans without him before they departed for Qatar.

Nigeria could have put themselves back in the game but Rui Patricio stopped Emmanuel Dennis’ penalty kick in the 81st minute after pushing Dalot just inside the area.

Benfica and Portugal striker Goncalo Ramos made it home for the first time from Rafael Guerrero’s selfless goal for the third a minute later.

Joao Mario disappeared in the fourth after a brilliant move, which again included FĂ©lix and a silky touch from Ramos, the perfect finish to an impressive attacking display to respond to the criticisms that described Santos’ football as negative.

It was also a way to quiet the noise around Ronaldo, although that is rarely possible for long, as the veteran striker recovers and prepares to play in his fifth World Cup.

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