Ronaldo scores, Portugal eases past New Zealand 4-0

By Associated Press 24 June 2017, 12:00AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo's 75th international goal helped lift Portugal to an easy 4-0 win over New Zealand on Saturday and into the Confederations Cup semifinals.

Ronaldo scored with a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, four minutes before Bernardo Silva slipped a shot into an unguarded goal.

Andre Silva dribbled deep into the New Zealand penalty area to score with a rising shot in the 80th and substitute Nani shot low past goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic in stoppage time.

Portugal finish top of Group A on goal difference ahead of Mexico, which also advanced by beating host Russia 2-1 in Kazan.

European champion Portugal outclassed a typically robust New Zealand team which extended its winless Confederations Cup run to 12 games across four editions.

Ronaldo was denied three times with headers by New Zealand's impressive goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, who made eight saves and used his big body to block second-half shots by Andre Silva and substitute Nani.

In the semifinals, Portugal will play on Wednesday in Kazan against the runner-up in Group B, which is currently Germany before the final group games Sunday.

Portugal will be without defender Pepe, who is suspended for a second yellow card in the tournament.

Russian fans in a 56,290 crowd made it clear who they came to see. They cheered when Ronaldo was on the big screens, even during Portugal's national anthem, and gave him an ovation when substituted midway through the second half.

Ronaldo's sharp headers could have turned an easy win into a rout. Three times he arrowed the ball too close to Marinovic, who had to leap to push one first-half effort against the crossbar.

With Ronaldo dominating All Whites defenders in the air midway through the first half, the next aerial challenge saw two leave him in a heap with rugby-style physical skills.

Ronaldo did not complain and soon scored when Portugal earned its penalty from another two-man tackle. Midfielder Danilo was pushed and tripped trying to meet the ball from a corner. Ronaldo shot high to Marinovic's left as the goalkeeper dived right.

The second goal came from neat play on the left between Ricardo Queresma and Eliseu to set up Silva from five meters (yards). The new Manchester City signing turned his right ankle landing on the foot of defender Thomas Doyle and did not appear for the second half.

New Zealand had chances and most fell to captain Chris Wood. Shots in the sixth and 76th minutes lacked power to test goalkeeper Rui Patricio, and defender Bruno Alves blocked a low shot at the far post in the 59th.

Late in the game, a tired-looking defense failed to close down Andre Silva and then Nani who both made space to shoot and score.

By Associated Press 24 June 2017, 12:00AM

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