We must improve, urges Ronaldo | The Daily Star
01:59 AM, June 21, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:01 AM, June 21, 2018

We must improve, urges Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo said Portugal have room to improve at the World Cup after his early goal secured a 1-0 win over Morocco as the European champions edged closer to the last 16.

"Our expectation is to continue our work and try to improve in the group phase," Ronaldo said after his fourth-minute strike decided a hard-fought encounter in Moscow.

"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."

Ronaldo surpassed Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas as Europe's all-time leading scorer with 85 international goals as Portugal moved top of Group B ahead of Spain's game against Iran in Kazan.

"We knew if we lost we could be out," Ronaldo said. "We knew Morocco would be giving their all.

"It was a surprise at the start because they were so strong," he added. "I managed to score a goal, it was great for me."

Morocco altered their tactics from their 1-0 loss to Iran, deploying a back four to try and counter the threat of Ronaldo following his hat-trick against Spain in the opening game.

But Herve Renard's plans were torn apart within minutes at the Luzhniki Stadium as Ronaldo wriggled free of the imposing Manuel Da Costa to bury an unstoppable header.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is like a port wine, he changes as he ages," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos. "He's constantly evolving, unlike regular players he's always evolving.

"He won't be doing the same thing in two or three years and he's not doing what he did four or five years ago. He knows himself well and what he needs to do."

It was far from a convincing Portuguese display and Santos admitted nerves played a factor, insisting they cannot overlook Iran in their final group game on June 25.

"There was a lot of anxiety because it's a World Cup, our team is a strong team but we have to grow," Santos said."

We did well defensively, but we need more than that. We have to continue pushing forward and have to change certain things and get more of the ball."

"Nothing is set in stone," he added. "The important thing is the Iran game. Our first aim is to get out the group stage because there are very unpredictable results. Only then do you focus on the next stage which is all or nothing as a knockout."

For Morocco, a second successive defeat condemned them to an early exit in their first World Cup appearance since 1998.

Leave your comments