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Ronaldo sends Portugal a warning for World Cup playoff final

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CR7’s dream of a record-equaling fifth World Cup appearance got a huge boost on Thursday.

Cristiano Ronaldo has cautioned his Portugal teammates against dropping their guard after moving a step closer to World Cup qualification.

Fernando Santos’ men took a huge step forward to Qatar on Thursday by beating Turkey 3-1 in a playoff semi-final contest.

Otavio and Diogo Jota’s first-half goals put Portugal ahead in Porto. Burak Yilmaz got one back for Turkey in the second half. Matheus Nunes, however, added a late third to seal victory for the Portuguese hosts.

They will next face North Macedonia, who beat Italy 1-0 in their respective semi-final tie, in the playoff final next Tuesday.

‘Nothing is won, nothing is achieved’

But while delighted with the outcome on Thursday, Ronaldo reminded his teammates that the job is not over yet.

“The first step has been taken towards our great objective, towards the 2022 World Cup,” he posted on Twitter.

“Nothing is won, nothing is achieved. We have to continue to work in a serious and focused way, respecting the opponent but always believing in our abilities. Power Portugal! Go to Qatar!”

Ronaldo almost scored twice in the win over Turkey, even hitting the crossbar in stoppage-time. He was excellent in the build-up play, however, and made a neat one-touch flick to start the move for Jota’s goal.

Santos expects ‘very difficult’ North Macedonia

Speaking to reporters after the final whistle, the Portugal manager also urged caution for Tuesday’s playoff final against North Macedonia.

The Balkan side, ranked 67th in the FIFA World rankings, beat European champions Italy 1-0 in the playoff semi-finals following Aleksandar Trajkovski’s injury-time winner.

“These games are finals. Finals are always complicated,” said Santos.

“We won the first one and now we have to win the second. That’s what we’re going to focus on. This game is over. Now we have to focus on North Macedonia, which will be a difficult game for sure. If they managed to beat Italy, that means it’s going to be very difficult.”