Soccer  

Portugal’s Fernandes urges Ronaldo critics to keep doing it

Bruno Fernandes said he hopes there will be more criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo because it gets the best out of the Portugal striker.

Ronaldo became the first player to score in five World Cups with a penalty in the 3-2 win in their World Cup opener against Ghana on Thursday.

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It capped a week which has seen him become a free agent after his contract at Manchester United was terminated in the wake of his interview with Piers Morgan and Fernandes believes it proves the 37-year-old thrives when he’s under pressure.

“I think he likes to work under that criticism from everyone, so I pray all of you to keep doing that because he gets the best of himself when you guys do that,” Fernandes said. “It was a dream come true to play with him in the national team and in the club also, and that is something amazing.

“I still share the space with him in the national team and the main thing for me is that Portugal does the best we can in the tournament because if we do it, Cristiano will be happy, I will be happy and everyone in Portugal will be happy for us.”

Ronaldo is looking for a new club after his second spell at Old Trafford ended this week following his criticism of United and manager Erik ten Hag.

But after beginning their World Cup campaign with a win, he insisted he’s fully focused on Portugal ahead of Group H games against Uruguay and South Korea.

“The most important step is we won,” Ronaldo said. “It was a week that finished this chapter. This chapter is closed. We wanted to start with a good foot. We won. I could help my team. All the rest does not matter.

“This was a beautiful moment, my fifth World Cup. We won, we started with a good foot. A very important win. We know the first match is crucial. But also a world record. The first player in five World Cups to score. That makes me proud.

“I’m very happy for the team that we got a good result. A tough game but a good result.”