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Santos is not concerned with Ronaldo’s goalscoring dip

The goals have dried up somewhat for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2022, but Fernando Santos has no worries about his Portugal displays.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s dip in goalscoring form is of no concern to Fernando Santos, who felt he was “tremendous” in Portugal’s World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final success against Turkey.

First-half efforts from Otavio and Diogo Jota put Portugal in control in Porto. Still, Burak Yilmaz pulled one back after the hour mark and had a chance to equalise from the penalty spot with five minutes remaining.

However, Yilmaz missed the target from 12 yards, and Matheus Nunes completed a 3-1 win for the hosts.

The Manchester United forward had five efforts on goal and hit the target with two.

Diogo Jota (38), Ronaldo, was Portugal’s only outfield starter with fewer touches than him (40).

Ronaldo also failed to find the back of the net in Portugal’s draw with the Republic of Ireland and the defeat to Serbia that cost Santos’ men automatic qualification for Qatar.

He has scored just four goals in his past 13 appearances, but Santos is not concerned by his displays.

Santos said:

“Ronaldo is judged on the goals he scores, it’s always that way.

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“From my perspective, he played a fantastic game, bringing the group together, working and pressing with the game’s intensity.

“He didn’t score, but that doesn’t invalidate what an excellent performance for Ronaldo was.

“He had several opportunities, and He didn’t convert them, but he opened up a lot of spaces for others.”

Ronaldo is one of several veterans on the side that it has been suggested should be phased out by Santos to make way for a new generation, but the coach spoke out in defence of the more experienced options at his disposal.

Santos continued:

“The one that everyone is asking to be replaced is the only golden generation.

“I’m very sorry to say this, but it is the only one that has brought a trophy to Portugal.

“Now, if you ask me if Portuguese football has a bright future ahead of it.

“And high-quality players capable of responding at any time, I’d say yes.

“Portugal has always had great players, but the golden generation is the one that won the gold.”

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