The Real Madrid forward extended his goalless streak in 2015-16 as Portugal defeated Albania, but his coach thinks the “anxiety” will pass
Fernando Santos has defended Cristiano Ronaldo for failing to score as Portugal edged past Albania 1-0 on Monday, claiming the Real Madrid star played through the pain barrier in the Euro 2016 qualifier.
The Seleccao skipper, 31, played the entire Euro 2016 qualifier, but it took an injury time goal from Miguel Veloso for Portugal to get the win and extend their Group I lead to three points.
Ronaldo has now gone four games without a goal since 2015-16 started – and missed a glaring opportunity against Albania – but Santos is not concerned with his forward’s barren streak.
“He’s a player who scores 50 goals a season, so it’s not surprising that it causes some anxiety when he goes a few games without a goal,” the coach told reporters after the win in Elbasan.
“He showed a fantastic, sacrificial spirit because he was experiencing some pain but gave everything in the game. The goals will come.
“Sometimes anxiety plays its part in stopping goals being scored, but he’s just saving himself up for the right time.”
Triumphing over Denmark in October would ensure qualification for Portugal and Santos is demanding they treat the game like a do-or-die clash.
“We have to face Denmark like it’s a final,” he said. “Victory is always important. We took an important step, but still nothing is decided.
“We played well against a good Albania team, but the team always believed and we ended up being happy.”