Any team would be dependent on Ronaldo, insists Portugal boss Santos

The Real Madrid star was rested for his national side’s 1-0 friendly victory over Italy, but the Seleccao coach insists there is nothing wrong with relying on him

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos believes there is nothing wrong with his side being dependent on their star captain Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Seleccao defeated Italy 1-0 in Switzerland on Tuesday without the rested Real Madrid star, providing their critics with a perfect response after claims they were too reliant on their record goalscorer following his hat-trick in the unconvincing 3-2 win over Armenia at the weekend.

But Santos insists any team in the world would need Ronaldo if they were fortunate enough to have him in their ranks and paid tribute to the rest of his squad after recording their first victory over the Azzurri in almost 40 years.

“Any team that has Ronaldo has to be dependent on Ronaldo,” he told reporters.

“But this Portugal squad has a great team spirit and we deserved to win. It was a balanced game and we had some good moments. The players knew what they were doing on the field and had belief that we could win.

“It was an intense game, almost like an early season match with two teams that tried everything. We did very well and it was a great victory.”

No Ronaldo, no problem! | Ricardo Quaresma in action during Portugal’s victory over Italy

Santos insisted he was always confident in forward Eder after the Braga player scored his first international goal in what was his 18th cap, three years after making his debut.

The former Greece boss added: “The players have my confidence. It is not a goal that means I will now have more confidence in Eder – if I call him up and he is in the team it’s because I already believe in him.”

Goalkeeper Beto was delighted to see his side end their winless run against the Italians and hoped the result would provide a springboard towards Euro 2016 qualification.

“We managed to beat an opponent who we had not overcome since a long time ago,” he said.

“We will continue to work in the next few games and everyone who is called up will give their best to ensure we qualify for Euro 2016 as soon as possible.”

The victory continues a good run of results for Portugal, who have now won six of their last seven matches, with their defeat to Cape Verde Islands in March the only recent setback.

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