Ronaldo returns from injury as Portugal thrashes Ireland in final warm-up

Cristiano Ireland warmup Bill Kostroun AP

By CAITLIN MURRAY

Cristiano Ronaldo is back and looking primed to help Portugal take on Group G in Brazil.

The superstar striker returned to the starting lineup on Tuesday after injury as Portugal thrashed Ireland, 5-1, in their final World Cup warm-up. Ronaldo played 65 minutes, his first playing time since May 24, when he helped Real Madrid clinch the Champions League trophy over Atletico.

Portugal had played two World Cup tune-up matches since then, a scoreless draw with Greece and 1-0 victory over Mexico. But it appears the left knee tendinosis and thigh injury that sidelined Ronaldo is better.

“I think he had a good match,” Portugal manager Paulo Bento said via translator to press at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. “Considering especially that he was without competing for a few weeks, I thought he did well.”

As it turned out, Portugal didn’t really need Ronaldo to get on the board quickly Tuesday. The Portuguese scored a mere two minutes into the match as an unmarked Hugo Almeida easily headed away a cross from Silvestre Varela.

But in the 20th minute, it was a cross from Ronaldo that was deflected by the Irish and bounced past the line for an own goal. Ronaldo had a hand in Portugal’s third goal — his header was blocked by goalkeeper David Forde, but Almeida volleyed the rebound in.

Ireland managed a goal from James McClean in the 52nd minute, but Portugal responded with late goals by Vieirinha and Fábio Coentrão, both assisted by Nani.

Portugal will begin their World Cup campaign Monday against Germany. Portugal faces the United States on June 22.

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65 Responses to Ronaldo returns from injury as Portugal thrashes Ireland in final warm-up

  1. blokhin says:

    pffft… the Irish probably had food poisoning or what was that excuse for why Ghana 4-0 over S Korea wasn’t a big deal…

    • Ted Tran says:

      It’s not looking good bruh… Ghana, Germany and Portugal have destroyed the last teams they’ve played…

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I remember watching Ireland get beat by Germany 6-1 in qualifying (in Dublin no less), so perhaps RoI just stinks this cycle. Keane and O’Shea (who will be ageing out) and not much else. They need to pull a reverse Klinsmann and get American kids to switch back.

      I think Germany is stout, but Portugal was a playoff team behind Russia, who we tied. They lost to Russia away (we drew), tied Northern Ireland at home, and drew both games with Israel. I think we’ll have to hold down the wings but it’s winnable.

      Two results from Ghana and Portugal, and then pray that Germany has it locked up before the third. If we both need the third game we’re in trouble.

    • Josh D says:

      As someone who watched the Korea game, the 4-0 result is very deceiving. The first two goals were awful giveaways and weak defending. Korea would have put away two goals if they had a better striker. Judging a second half of a friendly is not worth it. There are too many subs.

  2. dude1 says:

    We’re going to have to be outstanding defensively to have a chance of getting out of this group. As we conceded two penalties to lesser opposition, that’s looking unlikely.

  3. Dan says:

    Did Portugal look good? Yes. Did they look completely susceptible to the counterattack and really soft all through the middle of the field? Yes. The middle of the field is where we do our damage.
    Like the US they are a counter attacking team. The game will come down to several things.

    Fitness will be key. Neither team is overly concerned about possession. There will be a lot of end to end action.

    Can we control Nani? He is the engine of the team. He creates the opportunities.

    Beasley and Fabian are going to have to press up the field with overlapping runs. Our midfield is going to have to really work box to box all day.

    The game will be won or lost on the flanks and it will be won or lost in the first 15 and last 15 of the match.

    • Joamiq says:

      Not sure I agree – I’d say Moutinho is the engine of the team. He controls the flow of service to Nani and Ronaldo.

      • Josh D says:

        Agreed. As a United fan, if Nani is their driver I have nothing to worry about. He’s still incredibly selfish and not very creative. This season he ws extremely poor.

        Moutinho is more of the controller and sprayer. You cut off his supply and you cut off Ronaldo from clean breakaways.

  4. JCC says:

    Again friendly results before a World Cup are largely meaningless. That being said, never really understood why so many people in US soccer circles believed Portugal was C. Ronaldo + 10 nobodies. This team is stacked. It’s not as strong as Germany, but they are still on paper the second strongest team in the group even if Ronaldo wasn’t in the picture.

    • Bac says:

      Because there is a difference between hope and belief…but people turn hope into belief.
      Portugal didn’t dominate their qualifying..but that’s in the rear view mirror..
      If we played them 10 times, they’d probably win 7…
      Herb Brooks said if we played the Russians 10 times, they’d win 9…but not tonight….
      We play em on the pitch…not in the SPI, the Nate Silver, or on FIFA 2014…

      • Nate says:

        we beat a far better version of this team in 2002. we can do it again.

        • Johnny D says:

          One big difference, Nate. In 2002 the players trusted and believed in the coach. Say what you want about BA, you may not like him but he gets results

          • Anon says:

            So you’re implying that they do not currently believe in JK? Are you Brian Straus from last March?

          • Josh D says:

            Arena then proceeded to bomb out. So his record is spotty and it’s insular to only look at 02′.

            We have no reason to believe the players don’t trust Klinsi. Based on performance, it’s the opposite: We won all three friendlies for the first time ever, last year we posted the best win percentage of any US team in history, Jozy scored the most goals in a row of any US striker, Dempsey had the most goals he’s ever had in qualifying, and a lot of people are flourishing under the new system.

            Say what you will about Klinsi, but he got results in qualifying and we came out on top, as well as, the in the Gold Cup.

        • Jon says:

          It baffles me when people say 2002 was better than Portugal now. That team was mediocre. They hadn’t even qualified for the previous World Cup. This Portuguese team just took one of the best international teams of all time 120 minutes in the last Euro. They are far better defensively, far more experienced, far better as a team, have better depth, and more quality.

          • Jon says:

            In fact i’d say 2002 Portugal was very similar to Belgium of today, which is an upcoming team with little experience that had the potential to be good in the future, but that nobody who knows anything would consider to be a top 10 side. And for some reason Americans are acting like 2002 Portugal was the 2nd best team in the world or something.

            • JCC says:

              I agree. It seems when you ask why they think Portugal 2002 was better than Portugal today, they’ll usually bring up Figo, who not even in his prime was even close to being as dominant as C. Ronaldo is. If you look at that 2002 squad now, probably Figo and Rui Costa make the 2014 version and probably as subs.

              • Nate says:

                You do know Figo was European Footballer of the year in 2000, right? And he wouldnt start on this team? The team that had to qualify through a play in against Sweden? Comedy.

            • Nate says:

              The Portuguese themselves considered that side their “golden generation.” They were supposed to win Euro 2000, and were barely beaten in extra time in the Semi’s by the superstacked France team, which went on the become the first team since the 1976 German squad to win the European Championship while holding the world cup.

              In 2004, of course, the bulk of the same side, joined by a very young C. Ronaldo, lost at home to Greece in the final. To say they were “up and coming” in 2002 is just flat out wrong. Figo was 30.

              • JCC says:

                In 2000, not in 2002. He was already in decline by then. Also C. Ronaldo has more recognition and accolades than Figo had at his age. But putting these two aside. Coentrao, Pepe, Varela, Moutinho, Nani are all an upgrade from the 2002 team.

      • slowleftarm says:

        They’re better than us but 7 wins out of 10 better? I don’t know about that.

  5. NASL TO EL PASO TX 915 says:

    USA must effing beat Ghana……simple as that. USA can tie Ghana but Ghana can beat Portugal.
    Germany is a destroying machine, they show no mercy. USA must beat Ghana, tie Portugal and forget about Germany.
    It’s now or never, now or never. USA fans and non soccer fans will get on their knees if USA gets out of this group, and more than likely, USA would face Belgium, which they play in a scrimmage before their World Cup game.

    • quozzel says:

      Yeah, but what if things bounce just so and we actually win the group?

      We would slide into the bottom left bracket…and whoever wins Group G would be odds-on to amble right into the semis at that point. That bottom-left bracket is as weak as there is in the tournament.

      The Group G winner plays the Group H #2 in the Round of 16. That’s likely Russia, unless they wilt in the heat, whereupon it will be Algeria or South Korea…both of whom the USA should crush fairly handily. I also just can’t bring myself to fear playing a bunch of Cossacks in the jungles of Brazil.

      In the quarterfinals, the winner of 1G/2H plays either 1E or 2F. The winner of group E will very likely be either Switzerland or France, the #2 from F will almost certainly be Bosnia, unless Iran or Nigeria can spring an upset. So we’re almost certainly talking Switzerland, France, or Bosnia in the quarters…reasonably tough, but not near as imposing as, say, Germany or Portugal.

      In the semi’s we’d almost certainly see Brazil, and that’s where the Magical Run would almost certainly end, because it’d take a miracle on the order of Lake Placid to win that game.

      I actually think it could happen. Mostly because Germany, Ghana, and Portugal are going to take points away from one another. I certainly don’t think anyone from this group qualifies “comfortably”…I could well see it going down the the last day and probably the last goal, exactly like it did for South Africa.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Wow, based on this analysis, I better start looking for tickets to the final. I like it.

    • Ali Deez Nuts says:

      We will beat all three. Believe that.

      Stop this “We must TIE Portugal” crap. Is that what excites you? Last time we played Portugal in any competition they had a big time star named Luis Figo and guess what.

      What happened the last time we played Germany? Guess what.

      So actually, maybe we could lose to Ghana and blah blah blah

      Cut the math bs. Believe in our boys. Nobody ever won anything with fear.

      Yes I believe we will win all three. We will win the group. Talk is cheap so I put a couple hundred bucks on it just in case.

      -Ali Dia

      • Skyman says:

        Love your confidence, but keep the bills in your wallet Ali Dia….

        • Ali Dia says:

          My man do not worry. I do not advocate for gambling nor do I make a habit of it. Whatever winnings may come of my WC bets will be donated to good causes… I would even open the floor to SBI people to recommend and/or match. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. If I lose, I lose. I just don’t expect to :)

      • Freddy Adu says:

        I don’t always agree with you AD, but I gotta say to this post…HELL YEAH!
        Don’t bother telling me we have zero chance, doesn’t matter, it’s the World.Cup baby and.these.are our boys.

        Paint your face , get loud.out.there people, our crew worked 4 years for this and all.ya gotta do is remember two words “I believe”!!

        • Ali Dia says:

          +1000. If everybody agreed with me all the time, I would have no reason to come here. But I am down to roll with you or anybody who has the fever right now cos I do bad. LET’S GO YANKS!!!!

          • Byrdman says:

            Guilty as charged Ali. I look for Us to ride the magic all the way to the semis and then who knows. …

            I spend evry free minute cruising the net looking for more news about the WC. I have become a WC troll but a good troll….. One more day!!

      • ben in el cajon says:

        I believe
        That America will thrash on Ghana
        I believe
        That we’ll pound on Portugal too
        And I believe
        That the next time we play Germany the ref will call the handball
        I’m an American Outlaw
        And Outlaws just believe.

        (For what it’s worth, I agree with you)

        • Jon says:

          Stuff like this is cringeworthy and embarrassing… imagine saying this in public around a bunch of fans from around the world, they’d laugh hysterically

  6. quozzel says:

    The Irish made pretty much the same mistake against Portugal that the Koreans did against Ghana…they lined up and tried to punch with them…and the Irish tried to do it with Robbie Keane on the bench, go figure.

    Pretty much like the Koreans, the Irish had a bunch of possession in midfield, completed some pretty passes, looked good in spurts…and died ugly, when their backline got exposed they just couldn’t hold up. Some of that marking…I know we give Omar Gonzalez grief, but yowsahs…the Irish conceded a goal less than three minutes right in between both centerbacks, both of whom were busy ball-watching even as a big lumbering striker with the world’s most spectacular 70′s porn ‘stache was casually ambling into the box between them. Like, how do you MISS that guy? Second goal was an own-goal…again, face-palm. Shocking stuff, and it goes a ways towards explaining why the Irish are ranked #70 in the world – one place ahead of mighty superpower Trinidad & Tobago – and haven’t sniffed the World Cup in recent memory.

    The difference in athleticism was pretty spectacular.

    Also…Ronaldo did NOT look 100% to me…at all. He’s still got his howitzer, and he passed and connected well…but his pace and explosiveness was way off – several times I saw him run down from behind (yes, by an Irishman!) and he vanished out of the game for long spurts, and of course, his work-rate and defensive tracking was near zero (not that it’s ever great, just not his thing, he’s Ronaldo, don’t ya know.)

    Martin O’Neil is clearly trying to implement a more modern possession-oriented, positive system with Ireland, and while his players, technically, looked fine, I just didn’t see anything like the kind of athleticism, especially at outside back, for Ireland to successfully play that way…if you’re going to play up like the Irish did, you’d durn well better have catch-up speed on the outside, or you’re going to get barbecued down the flanks…they didn’t, and duly got toasted. Portugese wingers were dropping bombs into the box at will.

    Kind of like us playing Azerbaijan – who are ranked just thirteen spots below Ireland, by the way, and who, unlike the Irish, weren’t kind enough to oblige us by trying to play an open game and instead piled ten guys behind the ball – I don’t know how much it really has to do with the World Cup. Other than Cameroon (#56), South Korea (#57), and Australia (#62) – who are all several notches below where they’ve been in the past – there really aren’t any teams of that (low) caliber in Brazil, and the soccer gods weren’t kind enough to put any of them in our group. I don’t personally see how Portugal playing Ireland in New Jersey preps a team to take on Germany in the heat of Brazil just six days later, but hey, everybody does things their own way.

    • Increase says:

      Its also important to add that by the end of the game Ireland had 4 strikers on the field. They basically just threw themselves at Portugal and let Nani tear the one or two defenders who bothered to try apart. Portugal is good but if Ronaldo is half fit they dont have the abilty just simply overwhelm the USA.

    • Matt C says:

      nice stuff.

    • Jon says:

      Good analysis

  7. NASL TO EL PASO TX 915 says:

    By the way, Ireland look like the New York cosmos. Same colors, wearing Umbro, the head coach wearing the blue cosmo, playing in New Jersey like back then. That green Cosmo would look good in MLS.
    Was I the only one who saw cosmos green.

  8. Toe Ball says:

    We will beat Portugal. They will wilt in the heat.

    • Jon says:

      Why would a team from a country that often has 100+ degree weather wilt in the heat? but our team will not, even though the majority of our team does not play in the heat? makes no sense at all. You think our Germans are used to the heat? Or someone like Bradley who is from NJ, played in fairly cold European countries, and now plays in cold Toronto? you think hes going to be the same engine he normally is in the heat?

  9. Just saying says:

    Really this is nothing to worry about, re-watch the Ghana game and the Portugal – Ireland game and you will see is just smoking mirrors. Portugal against Mexico was horrendous succeptible to attack weak in the defense and midfield, sure Pepe was not there nor Ronaldo however they are just two out of 11 and 1 is a central defender and the other one a winger separate positions that still leave openings to be exploited. Not to mention Mexico caused problems and they have a mediocre offense at the moment nothing special or clicking enough to make some magical moments but they did manage to make Portugal expose their weaknesses. Now, Ireland in the other hand is a team not going to the worldcup, has not been preparing for the tournament or has had sufficient time to practice under their national team manager and it showed. Portugal was only as good as their opponents weaknesses. Ghana played a deflated Korea, they appears tired, disorganized, and lacked the ability to maintain possession Ghana took advantage. Korea did have a few moments of brilliance between a couple of players and it exposed Ghana. The USA looks to be starting to peak the final score may be meaningless but the form, the flow, the comradity of the players and the understanding of their positioning is starting to look superb. I agree that there were scary moments within the USA but if I noticed I’m sure te coach did as well and he will point them out. The thing is Portugal central midfield is non existent as well as their outside backs, Ghana has no outside backs good enough and their wings look vulnerable. To say the USA has no chance is absurd, we can certainly beat both of those teams and even pull a positive result against the Germans. Watch the games again on the espn site but this time just watch Ghana and Portugal players and you will see how they are far off from being a cohesive team.

    • Scott says:

      Are you done ?

    • Brain Guy says:

      Smoking mirrors? Is that what you find in Ronaldo’s dressing area?

    • Bob says:

      This is excellent! Thanks for the analysis as I am sure no one else on here has watched those games in detail. Good job!

      • beachbum says:

        no one else has watched those games in detail ? think again my friend :) I’d wager man of us have

      • Jon says:

        I watched almost every minute of both Ghana’s and Portugal’s friendlies and pretty much everything he said is completely false. I mean he called the Portuguese midfield and fullbacks non existent even though they are one of the best in the tournament in both those areas? it makes no sense. He’s blatantly spouting BS. LOL

    • JCC says:

      “The thing is Portugal central midfield is non existent as well as their outside backs”

      Joao Moutinho and Fabio Coentrao say hi.

  10. NASLatlanta says:

    Damn. What happened to his knee problem?

  11. Dennis says:

    Sure, S. Korea and Ireland sucked, but almost any International soccer game where the opponents score 5 goals, well the opponents had something to do with it. Portugal and Ghana certainly proved that if you turn your head, they can score, as did Germany in their last game. The USA certainly looked better in the pre-WC friendlies than it did in 2002, 2006 or 2010.

    This group is shaping up to be as tough as it was originally thought. Everybody gets 4 points and it comes down to goal difference.

    • Jon says:

      We played against 3 very weak defensive teams in Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Turkey, didnt score more than twice against any of them and weren’t particularly good overall and people praise our performances but when Portugal does the same and scores 5 goals apparently it doesnt count because the other team wasn’t good defensively, even though Ireland has better defenders than all 3 teams mentioned above. The hypocrisy is quite funny.

      • JCC says:

        Turkey was probably the best team defensively, so credit is due there. But Nigeria has always been terrible in defense and were terrible against the US. I’m surprised how many people on here have been portraying Nigeria as some sort of powerhouse. Out of all the African teams, I predict they’ll probably perform the worst. Also for all the harping on Ghana lacking cohesion and all that, the fact that they played poorly and were still able to score 4 against a decent team is pretty impressive in my book.

  12. Mikey K says:

    I do not understand why Republic of Ireland has not been good in the last decade. They have had a lot of EPL players and some good championship team players. I guess maybe team chemistry is not good on the team.

    • seamus says:

      I don’t either. They’ve regressed, alas. They remind me of watching the US pre-2002. Painful. No cohesion and not enough individual skill on the ball to make things happen or at least scare defenders into leaving a little space to operate. I remember a 2002 WC warmup game between the US and Ireland where Ireland looked crisp and won with relative ease. Now it’s like the teams have switched jerseys. It must have to do with development. On the other hand the population is only 4 million or so, about the same as….Uruguay. Never mind.

      • Mikey K says:

        I made a mistake, 1995 is the start of when a lot of their results started to go down hill

        • seamus says:

          Perhaps but they made it out of their group in 2002 and were the only team to take a point off Germany (figuratively speaking) until Brazil in the final. All that notwithstanding the toxic Keane brouhaha. Maybe that was the turning point.

  13. Ga1atic0 says:

    I think the US is more focused on beating Ghana than winning the group. All I’ve read recently is the concentration on Ghana. For me beating Ghana is winning our own personal WC. Who’s with me!!

  14. x says:

    The good news is that if we sweep the group with three wins, we stand a chance to be ranked in the top 5 in the stupid FIFA rankings.

    The bad news is that if we sweep the group, we probably would be justified in being ranked top 5, as we are playing two top 5 teams.

  15. jefpal says:

    This is exciting! A stout test for the U.S. in the group stage. Let’s see what our guys can do!