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Portugal boss Santos defends decision to bench Ronaldo against Andorra

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Portugal boss Fernando Santos has defended his decision to start Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench against Andorra.

Ronaldo was not in the starting lineup as Portugal thrashed Andorra 7-0 in a friendly in Lisbon on Wednesday. Paulinho scored a brace on his debut, while Pedro Neto also marked his first appearance with a goal, to go with strikes from Renato Sanches, Joao Felix, and an Emili Garcia own goal.

CR7 also came from the bench to score and create an assist as A Selecao strolled to a convincing rout against their opponents.

Given the opponents and Ronaldo’s chase for international goals to match and better Iran forward Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals, many would have expected the Juve man to start.

Fernando Santos decided otherwise and left his captain on the bench. He started with a trio of Paulinho, Neto, and Trincao.

After the game, the Portugal boss explained his decision to bench Ronaldo.

“When it comes to the idea that Cristiano Ronaldo must play [against Andorra] to score goals and break the record, well, Ronaldo does not need to score against Andorra to become the top scorer. He will be anyway,” he told a news conference as quoted by BeSoccer.

“Therefore, he came on as a substitute and played for long enough. It’s important to understand that Ronaldo didn’t play a game for 19 days during his lockdown. He’s one of the players who need some minutes to get a competitive rhythm.”

“I didn’t think it was right to put him on early in the game. Andorra were playing in the last 20 metres of the pitch just defending and tackling. It could be dangerous for us. We must look carefully at every situation.

“Anyway, I am not sure if Ronaldo was anxious to play. Every player always wants to score goals, that’s for sure.”

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