Marseille (AFP) – Portugal coach Fernando Santos hailed Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance as “amazing” despite his failure to score as his side progressed to the Euro 2016 semi-finals with a 5-3 penalty shootout win over Poland.
Ronaldo is just one goal off matching Michel Platini’s record of nine in Euro finals, but endured a frustrating night in front of goal during the 120 minutes in Marseille.
The Real Madrid star did net from the penalty spot in the shootout and Santos reserved special praise for Ronaldo and his club teammate Pepe.
“Pepe and Cristiano played an amazing game, sometimes people undervalue them,” said Santos.
“People focus on Ronaldo because he has to score, but he played amazing, he is a great captain. Pepe was amazing today too.”
Renato Sanches was Portugal’s hero. The 18-year-old cancelled out Robert Lewandowski’s opener on his full international debut.
However, Santos refused suggestions Sanches — who joined Bayern Munich for 35 million euros last month — is ready to inherit Ronaldo’s role as leader of the national team.
“(An era) before and after Renato is an exaggeration. He played a great game, but he is still growing.
“This is not the future Renato because (in the future) he will be an even better player.
“Renato is still growing and he has to take all his qualities and put it all on the pitch.”
Portugal will face Wales or Belgium in their fourth semi-final in the last five Euros tournaments in Lyon on July 6.
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