(Persia Digest) – Daily Sun says: “HE IS like a port wine. He knows how to refine his capacity and age at his best.”
That was the verdict of Portugal boss Fernando Santos after captain Cristiano Ronaldo’s winning header against Morocco on Wednesday.
Now 33, the Real Madrid forward has scored four goals in two games so far at the World Cup in Russia – and his hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-3 opening draw with Spain included a brilliant last-minute free-kick.
He started his career as a tricky winger with bags of pace, first for Sporting Lisbon and then for Manchester United, but has since become a goal-poaching centre-forward for club and country.
“He is constantly evolving, contradictorily to the other players,” said Santos. “He knows himself and he knows what he can do.
“What he does now is not what he did three or four years ago, and not what he will be doing in a few years from now.”
Ronaldo added: “I am very happy. I managed to score a goal, it was great for me. Our expectation is to continue our work and try to improve in the group phase.”
Portugal face Iran – who were beaten 1-0 by Spain on Wednesday having opened with a 1-0 victory over Morocco – in their final Group B game in Saransk on Monday (8pm).
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz hailed the bravery of his side and pledged they would fight to make the Last 16.
With three points from two matches, Iran still have a chance of qualifying if they can get a result against Ronaldo’s Portugal.
There was some consternation in the Iran-Spain clash when the entire Iranian bench poured onto the pitch after Saeid Ezatolahi seemingly fired in an equaliser for Iran.
But the thousands of Iranian fans that filled the stadium with the sound of vuvuzelas throughout were left disappointed when it was ruled offside.
“We left the pitch 1-0 down, but we won respect. I’m sure the fans are proud of our team,” said the former Bafana coach.
“Our players can go home and sit with their family and friends, and be proud of themselves. People gave us no chance but we still have chances to qualify for the second round. We’ll fight for our dreams.”