Cristiano Ronaldo saluted Portugal’s team effort after they secured their qualification for next summer’s World Cup.
The Euro 2016 winners may have left it late, requiring a victory over Switzerland in Tuesday night’s final group match to avoid dropping into the play-offs. But an own goal from Johan Djourou and Andre Silva’s strike ensured Ronaldo, fitness permitting, will appear at his fourth finals and an eighth straight major tournament in Russia next year.
The 32-year-old wrote on Twitter: “Great team effort! Thank you all for your support. Russia, here we come!!”
Ronaldo will be joined by Lionel Messi, world football’s other undisputed superstar, at the finals after Argentina beat Ecuador 3-1.
Yet while Messi almost single-handedly dragged his side to Russia with a sparkling hat-trick it certainly required a team effort from Portugal, as Ronaldo was far from his best in Lisbon.
That is no longer unknown territory for Fernando Santos’ side, however, following their 1-0 victory over France to become European champions last year.
Their talisman was reduced to willing them on from the sidelines after he was injured early on in the final in Paris. Midfielder Bernardo Silva says the team will use that same mentality when they attempt to repeat their European success on the world stage.
“We knew we had to win and fortunately with the support of all the Portuguese we got the victory and the qualification for the World Cup,” the Manchester City man told the Portuguese Football Federation’s website.
“Fernando Santos gives a lot of confidence to the players. We are now looking forward to a good campaign in the World Cup.”
He added: “We have entered every game to win, it is the strength that our coach and team-mates convey to us, and we know that when we believe and think in this way, we are closer to winning.
“As Portugal did in the European Championship, they went into all the matches to win, that’s what we’re going to do at the World Cup.
“We’re going to try to win the World Cup, not knowing if that can happen or not, but we’re going to play every game to win.”
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