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No questions on Real Madrid, Ronaldo tells journalists

23 June 2017

Ronaldo brushed off allegations of tax evasion in Spain with man-of-the-match performances in the 2-2 draw with Mexico and 1-0 victory over hosts Russian Federation, when he scored the victor.

Coach Fernando Santos will not underestimate the Kiwis and will demand a strong defensive performance, despite being expected to let Cristiano Ronaldo sit out this match. "We need to control the game and to show to ourselves, especially, that we can compete under such hard circumstances".

He added: "Personally, I'm just really happy to be here, representing my country".

The switch proved effective, with the New Zealanders relying on a creative, pass-based style rather than the long balls to Wood which had predominated in St Petersburg.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson believes they deserved at least a draw.

"Portugal were so well prepared that we played three extra time periods and always won".

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"Everyone is incredibly disappointed in the changing room and we feel we should have got more", said Hudson.

Things remain tight in Group A before Saturday's final round.

Mexico asserted its superiority in the second half against New Zealand to avoid a Confederations Cup embarrassment, coming from behind to win a fiery Group A encounter 2-1 on Wednesday.

"The enthusiasm of the New Zealand people to see Cristiano play is common to the whole world", he said.

Instead, teams are now encouraged to play on until the referee stops the game, no matter how many players are down injured or how serious the injury appears to be.

The European champions struggled to kill off the game despite several chances and could have conceded when Georgy Dzhikiya headed narrowly over in stoppage time.

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They gave the Mexicans a scare in Sochi with Leeds striker Chris Wood giving New Zealand a shock first-half lead.

Little under 10 minutes into the second half, Raul Jimenez brought Mexico level and then Orile Peralta grabbed the victor with 18 minutes remaining.

"If we play like we did the other night, I have all the confidence in the world".

Earlier, tensions erupted when Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio swore at the New Zealand coaching staff.

However, Mexico will sweat on the fitness of key defender Carlos Salcedo who went down with a dislocated shoulder in Wednesday's clash. Osorio said Mexico has been waiting for this type of game.

In a must-win situation for the Mexican team, they achieved their main objective, which was to gain at least three points in order to qualify for the knockout round of the tournament.

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