Belfast Telegraph

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Portugal boss Fernando Santos backs 'abused' Ronaldo

By James Robins

Portugal boss Fernando Santos has leapt to the defence of his captain and star player Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the game against Austria at the Parc des Princes.

Ronaldo was accused of being disrespectful to Iceland on Tuesday following the Nordic side's surprise 1-1 draw with Portugal, after he avoided shaking hands or swapping shirts with opponents and hastily headed off the pitch down the tunnel.

The Real Madrid forward then criticised Iceland for their negative tactics and said he felt they had a small-time mentality because they celebrated the point - the nation's first ever at the European Championships - as if they had won the tournament.

However, Santos has claimed his captain was abused by some of Iceland's players and staff during the Group F opener.

"When people talk about fair play sometimes it makes me want to laugh," he said.

"After what the Iceland manager and some players said and did for 90 minutes - they booed Pepe and Ronaldo - and the players on the bench kept heckling Pepe, people will respond the way they can, in a very emotional way."

Austria's centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic is suspended after his red card against Hungary and could be replaced by Watford's Sebastian Prodl or Tottenham's Kevin Wimmer.

Belfast Telegraph