The Real Madrid star again refused to answer questions following his nation’s 1-0 defeat of Russia in the Confederations Cup
Fernando Santos defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s right to give the media the brush off once again after the Real Madrid star grabbed the only goal as Portugal beat Russia 1-0 on Wednesday.
Ronaldo’s eighth-minute header settled an entertaining contest at the Spartak Stadium and, although the European champions’ captain did not have his finest evening, he was still named man of the match by a star struck home crowd.
The 32-year-old did, at least, attend the obligatory press conference for the winner of the award – he skipped it altogether on Sunday in Kazan – but refused to answer any questions, instead reading out a couple of bland lines about the match itself .
Ronaldo has not spoken to the media since reports emerged in Portugal of his desire to quit Madrid over a perceived lack of support from the club after Spanish authorities opened an investigation into allegations of tax fraud against the former Manchester United forward.
And, although it is believed his stance has softened slightly after being backed by Madrid president Florentino Perez this week, his future remains shrouded in mystery.
Asked about the issue, Santos was unsurprisingly standing by his captain.
He said: “Do you think he should answer questions about issues outside the game?
“He’s here to talk about the game – full stop. He’s not talking about his family, Real Madrid, nothing. He’s here to talk about the game.
“I understand you’re all curious, but you have to respect the personal life of the player. You will have other opportunities to talk to him and get all the answers. I think he did very well in not answering any questions.”
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The win moved Portugal on to four points – they drew their opener 2-2 with Mexico on Sunday – and avoiding defeat against unfancied New Zealand on Saturday in St Petersburg will be enough to see them into the semi-finals.
Santos added: “If we had scored twice like we did against Mexico it would’ve been better, but we also conceded two goals against Mexico which is not normal.
“In the first half we played very well with a lot of personality, except in the last 10 minutes of the first half where we became slightly enthusiastic which led to counter attacks from Russia, which caused us a few problems.”
Although Ronaldo received the vote of the crowd, most observers would argue Bernardo Silva was the game’s stand-out player.
And, while Santos was willing to hand out some individual praise to the newly-acquired Manchester City playmaker, he stressed again the importance of the collective.
“We know Bernardo very well, he was called up to the national team some time ago in a game against Albania and we won 1-0,” he said.
“We know him well, he knows his team-mates, we know his characteristics, we know the characteristics which adapt better to Bernardo.
“[But] the most important thing is the whole team. Thank God I have a group of players who are so concentrated and always ready to answer any situation at any moment.
“They are willing to play their hearts out for their coach.”