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Santos warns Croatia that Ronaldo will produce fireworks

Portugal 3 Hungary3

By Robert Jones

Published 23/06/2016

Tough times: Cristiano Ronaldo hit two goals as his side earned a draw
Tough times: Cristiano Ronaldo hit two goals as his side earned a draw

Portugal coach Fernando Santos had a warning for last-16 opponents Croatia after Cristiano Ronaldo broke his duck at Euro 2016.

After 20 efforts on goal without scoring in Portugal's opening two games, the Real Madrid star netted twice in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Hungary.

Defeat would have sent Portugal home and they had to come from behind three times against the Group F winners.

Santos said: "This is what Cristiano is all about. He has to score because he's a winner. He plays up front and feeds on goals.

"This game increased his confidence levels. He's a confident and determined player, but this will increase his confidence for the game against Croatia."

Hungary have been one of the surprise packages of the tournament and they took the lead in stunning fashion through Zoltan Gera.

Nani equalised just before half-time and a crazy 17-minute spell after the break saw Balazs Dzsudzsak twice put Hungary back ahead only for Ronaldo to level on both occasions.

A third draw of the group stage was enough to send Portugal through as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Ronaldo said: "(It was a) crazy game. We were out of the European Championship three times, and we were always chasing the game. It was a difficult game, it was very hot, but the main objective was to go through.

"We qualified in third. Obviously our objective was to win the game and finish first or second if possible, but we've managed our objective, we're through, so we should congratulate ourselves.

"Now we face a very tough team. I think the odds are 50-50. They have very good players. It's not every team that manages to beat Spain, so we respect them. But we know our strength, we know our worth, and we'll look them in the eyes."

Hungary were already through and will play Belgium, the highest-ranked team in the tournament, in the last 16.

Coach Bernd Storck said: "I think it's a dream for the whole of Hungary - I'm speechless. The fans really supported us in the two previous games, but today it was even better."

Storck had thought about resting 37-year-old Gera, who became the second oldest goalscorer in European Championship finals history behind Austria's Ivica Vastic.

The Ferencvaros playmaker said: "We're on a fantastic journey. It means a lot to the team."

Belfast Telegraph

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