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Cristiano Ronaldo: My Portugal 'dream' is getting closer after Poland win

July 1, 2016 7:08 AM
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Cristiano Ronaldo: My Portugal 'dream' is getting closer after Poland win

Cristiano Ronaldo moved closer to his "dream" of finally landing Portugal a major international title after squeezing past Poland 5-3 on penalties in the first Euro 2016 quarter-final in Marseille on Thursday night.

Ronaldo endured a frustrating night in front of goal in his quest to match Michel Platini's record of nine Euros finals goals. Portugal drew 1-1 with Poland at the end of 120 minutes of play.

However, Ronaldo netted from the spot in the shootout to edge towards a crowning glory for what he described as an already "privileged" career, having won three Champions League titles and three World Player of the Year awards.

"The dream is getting closer and anything can happen now. I'm not missing anything (in honours) and even if my career finished today, I would still feel privileged," said the Real Madrid star.

"But I've always said, and I don't hide it, that I would love to win a title with the national team. We're on the right road."

Next up for Ronaldo's Portugal is a semi-final meeting in Lyon on Wednesday with either his Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale and Wales, or a richly talented Belgium side.

Ronaldo criticised Iceland's "small mentality" for their defensive tactics in Portugal's opening 1-1 draw in Group F, and he compared Wales' run to the quarters to the Atlantic islanders' incredible debut tournament after shocking England to reach the last eight.

"Wales, like Iceland, have caused a surprise since the start. As for Belgium, they've been showing their progress for several years already."

Meanwhile, Renato Sanches - who had equalised at the Stade Velodrome with his first senior international strike - insists any criticism of Portugal has no effect on the players.

Sanches tucked away Portugal's second spot-kick after Ronaldo made up for a frustrating evening by scoring the opener.

And he said the players remain confident, despite the fact they have yet to win a game inside 90 minutes on their way to the last four.

"It is a wonderful moment for the team, for me for scoring," said Sanches.

"We have been working very hard and we have been doing our best. People criticise us but we don't care, because we are in the semis.

"We conceded very early but we believed until the end, we tried our best. The move for the goal turned out that way, but the team has been playing well. We are very confident so we will keep on trying to play our best."

Having signed for Bayern Munich before the tournament, Sanches has impressed in substitute appearances but was unleashed from the start and did not disappoint.

His deflected equaliser brought Fernando Santos' side level and his confident demeanour meant he was more than happy to face up to taking a penalty during the shoot-out.

"Cristiano was first and I said I would be second. The coach had faith in me, and I was confident enough to ask to shoot.

"I was just thinking about scoring, I was very cool, very collected, did what I always do and picked a side and put it in there."

Despite their exit, Poland coach Adam Nawalka is hoping a strong showing for much of the campaign can lead to bigger and better things for his team.

"I think that the fans' expectations are our motivation to play better and better. We feel their support," he said.

"We feel that we can bring them a lot of joy. I hope we continue to do so. Hopefully these championships prove to be the beginning of a wonderful era for Polish football, but we're going to stay cool.

"We know that our opponents will play differently against us now and if we want to play a major role in international football, we will have to be prepared."


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