Russia 0-1 Portugal: Ronaldo puts speculation aside to give
Portugal first Confederations Cup 2017 win

Portugal were 1-0 victors over Russia in FIFA Confederations Cup Group A, thanks to a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo opened the scoring with his 74th goal for his country, meeting Raphael Guerreiro’s cross at the far post.

The result sees Portugal leapfrog Russia to the top of their group.

First half dominated by the visitors

Portugal started the game dominating possession, as was expected when the lineups were released. The hosts employed a very defensive 5-4-1 shape with Fyodor Smolov acting as the lone striker, who often dropped deep to get possession with no runners going beyond him.

The first chance saw the opening goal, as Ronaldo was given a free header at the far post which he placed over Igor Akinfeev in the Russian goal.

The game was largely overshadowed by Portugal’s captain Ronaldo, who reportedly has expressed his desire to leave Real Madrid and Spain, mainly due to the lack of support he was given during allegations of tax evasion against him.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are the clubs who seem the most interested in prying Ronaldo away from Madrid, with clubs from China and MLS also appear to be interested in the forward.

Akinfeev would have liked to have kept a clean sheet even more so today, as this was his 100th appearance for his country, making his debut in 2004.

Russia’s gameplan had come undone within eight minutes. They set up to contain Portugal and then break on the counter, but now had to try and get on the ball more in possession or risk falling further behind in this game.

Ronaldo then had his second chance of the game, making his way into the penalty area from the right-hand side, jinked past Viktor Vasin before his shot was smartly saved by Akinfeev.

Second half was livelier but no goals

Russia changed their shape for the second half, going back to a similar shape to the one that beat New Zealand on the opening round of fixtures.

Akinfeev then made an exceptional save to keep out Milan’s new big money striker Andre Silva, who met a looping cross with his head but the goalkeeper was able to stretch and just about palm the ball away from danger.

Russia did start to commit more men forward in the second half, and played with a lot more purpose as Portugal’s 1-0 lead did start to look a bit precarious.

Portugal launched a counter-attack through a wonderful ball from one Silva (Andre) to another (Bernardo) before a cross came back to A. Silva but his header was blocked. A minute later Cedric Soares had an effort from 35 yards palmed away.

After a few Russian warnings, Ronaldo then sent a header wide of a vacant goal following another counter-attack as both sides appeared desperate for the next goal.

Andre Gomes became Portugal’s link between midfield and attack, as he drove through Russia’s midfield on the counter again, this time finding B. Silva before the new Manchester City winger fired straight at the goalkeeper.

Rui Patricio's only real involvement in the game came in stoppage time, where a cross-cum-shot had to be tipped wide by the goalkeeper.

While Russia did grow into the game, and had 10 shots at goal, but none on target and very few shots came from dangerous areas as the game fizzled out into full-time.

Portugal now stand at the top of the group with four points, while Russia sit behind them on three points.

Mexico and New Zealand will meet later today in the other Group A fixture.