Joao Felix, Pepe and Goncalo Ramos have been eager to downplay any connection between the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal’s sensible efficiency within the final 16 of the World Cup.
Ronaldo was sensationally dropped by coach Fernando Santos for the conflict with Switzerland following a string of poor performances and unhelpful distractions.
21-year-old Ramos stepped in and hit a hat-trick on his World Cup debut in a 6-1 win that appeared to show that Portugal are not reliant on their all-time high scorer.
Ramos himself was the primary to rally round Ronaldo after the match, saying: “He’s the captain, he’s the chief and we at all times sit up for enjoying facet by facet with him.”
One other participant Ronaldo’s absence seem to unleash was Felix, who didn’t get himself on the scoresheet regardless of an excellent efficiency.
“It was an important recreation for the entire crew,” Felix informed RTP3. “We began nicely from the primary minute. We performed a whole recreation and when it is like that it is tougher for somebody to beat us.
“Whether or not Cristiano is there or not, the vital factor is the crew. The crew additionally performs nicely when Ronaldo is there.”
Veteran defender Pepe concurred, and he quashed any rumours that Ronaldo was throwing any tantrums over the choice to drop him.
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“He is aware of completely nicely that crucial factor is ‘us’,” Pepe mentioned. “What occurred at present was the coach’s alternative and have to be revered.”
Pepe grabbed a chunk of World Cup historical past for himself too, as he grew to become the oldest man to ever rating in a knockout stage recreation.
He rose to brilliantly head dwelling a primary half nook, however he was eager to credit score good old school coaching floor work for it.
”We have been engaged on it and within the first nook we have been going to hit straight,” he mentioned. “I used to be in the precise place. The collective onerous work paid off.”