Published: Sun, June 25, 2017
Sports | By Grace Becker

Confederations Cup hosts Russia face decisive match against Mexico


Portugal will be without Raphael Guerreiro on Saturday, though the Borussia Dortmund defender could return in the tournament.

And Nani, Ronaldo's replacement from the bench, added a fourth for good measure, ensuring that Portugal's next generation did not take all the glory as Fernando Santos' men finished ahead of Mexico thanks to a super goal difference after their 2-1 defeat of Russian Federation.

KAZAN, Russia (AP) - Host nation Russia fought valiantly but could not avoid early elimination at the Confederations Cup after a 2-1 loss to Mexico on Saturday, a result that secured the Mexicans a place in the semifinals of the World Cup warm-up tournament.

With Portugal comfortably leading, Fernando Santos opted for a change after 68 minutes as Ronaldo made way for Luis Nani.

"It's less than 72 hours to recover, it's not easy", said the coach, who steered his team to the Euro 2016 title over seven games in a 27-day period in France.

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" I think the New Zealand team deserved to score a goal... and they're a team with great spirits and capacity", he said.

Bernardo Silva struck three minutes later, but New Zealand nearly pulled a goal back on the hour when Tom Doyle's ball across the face of goal saw Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio block from Wood.

Ronaldo twice threatened the New Zealand goal in quick succession, nodding straight at goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic on 24 minutes and then clattering the crossbar shortly after with another header from a Ricardo Quaresma cross. Ronaldo shot high to Marinovic's left as the goalkeeper dived right.

"I helped the team, I scored the opening goal and I had a few more chances", said Ronaldo. Defender Michael Boxall and substitute Kosta Barbarouses also went close.

Osorio is certain to be without midfielder Carlos Salcedo, who suffered a shoulder injury in the game against New Zealand.

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"Luís came here (for the press conference) because I'm one hundred percent certain to see him on the pitch", he said. Russian Federation need to beat Mexico in Kazan to avoid their prospects hinging on a Portugal loss, while a point would be enough for the Mexicans to advance.After the draw with Portugal, Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio made eight changes against New Zealand, a plan that initially backfired.

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Portugal can go all the way at the Confederations Cup after his side booked a place in the semi-finals with a comfortable 4-0 win against New Zealand.

Bernado Silva scored Portugal's second.

The winners of Group A will take on the Group B runners-up in the semis, while the second-placed team from the group will face the Group B winners.

One reason Ronaldo is strong deep into June is because Real Madrid managed his playing time more carefully this season.

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It appeared that the scoring in Saint Petersburg had ended but in the first minute of added-on time, Nani found the bottom corner of the net from 16 yards to wrap up a convincing success.

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