Portugal boss Paulo Bento was a happy man after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo safely negotiate his way through his return from injury ahead of the World Cup finals.
The Real Madrid forward played 66 minutes of his country's 5-1 friendly victory over the Republic of Ireland at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Ronaldo, who had missed the previous two warm-up games with tendinitis in his left knee and a thigh problem, did not find his way on to the scoresheet, but showed flashes of his brilliance, setting up one of striker Hugo Almeida's two goals and rattling the foot of the post with a first-half free-kick.
Bento said: "Yes, it was important that he played and we would not hide it.
"A player like Ronaldo is important for any team, and that's the case for us. It's good that he is back."
Ronaldo's contribution will put him in line for Portugal's opener against Germany in Salvador on June 16, when Bento will hope he has regained a little more of his customary sharpness.
However, he was content enough with what he saw against the Republic.
The manager said: "I think he had a good match alongside what we did collectively. Considering he has been without competitive football for a few weeks, I think he did well."
World Cup 2014: Top 10 strikers
World Cup 2014: Top 10 strikers
1/10 Diego Costa - Spain
According to all reports, Chelsea have just about wrapped up the signing of Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid and what a player they have acquired. After going under the radar in Spanish football for several years, Costa exploded onto the world scene this year with his goal scoring form and dominating performances. He helped Atletico to their first La Liga title since 1996 and finishing runners up in the Champions League. The 25-year-old also brings Spain something they haven’t had for years, a bully. Costa is strong, powerful and direct, a change to the tiki-taka players for previous Spanish teams. He’ll be the catalyst if Spain are to make it two World Cups in a row.
2/10 Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal
If CR7 doesn’t regain full fitness in time for the World Cup not just Portugal will be in despair, the whole world will regret not seeing the best player on the planet on the biggest stage. His quality is seemingly boundless and is coming off another great season for Real Madrid. Portugal need him, perhaps more than any team needs one single player. If they are without their captain and talisman, Portugal may fail completely but with him, they could go all the way. Ronaldo has scored 50 plus goals in each of the past four seasons for Real, a frightening statistic and scored four times in Portugal’s play-off success over Sweden in qualifying. He is a true great and a World Cup success would establish him as a legend.
3/10 Wilfried Bony - Ivory Coast
With a stellar first season in the Premier League under his belt, the Ivory Coast will be hoping for big things from their strike force of Didier Drogba and Wilfried Bony. At Swansea, Bony scored 25 goals in all competitions last season, a superb return for his first season in England. With Drogba likely to call time on his international career after this summer, Bony will have to pick up the mantle of the Elephants’ main man up front. He’s started well with big goals in qualifying and the African Cup of Nations but to date all eight of his international goals have come against African teams, something he’ll need to change, starting, perhaps, with the Ivory Coast’s opening game against Japan.
4/10 Karim Benzema - France
France have had a dismal time of late when it comes to international tournaments. But, this time around, their squad seems much more settled, more together and with some real talent. Karim Benzema has only scored twice for France in past two years and has a chequered past with the national side but his form for Real Madrid last season should give him confidence to translate his good work onto the international level. He scored 17 league goals for Real last season, winning the Champions League and Copa del Rey and is a real superstar in the French squad. If he can keep his temper in check and get on with the rest of the team, France have the players to supply him for the goals he undoubtedly can get.
5/10 Sergio Aguero - Argentina
Among Argentina’s sea of stars is Manchester City’s Aguero. Angel Di Maria, Maxi Rodriguez, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi form an attacking force that is, perhaps, unrivalled by any in world football. Aguero is likely to start ahead of Higuain for the starting place up top but if the City man does find his best form in front of goal, he’s sure to help Argentina to the latter stages of the tournament. He scored five times in qualifying, including strikes against Colombia and Uruguay and comes off the back of 17 league goals for City despite only playing 23 games in a frustrating, injury hit campaign. Now, with his injuries hopefully behind him, he can once again get back to his devastating best and blow teams away starting with Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 15.
6/10 Luis Suarez - Uruguay
Another player we are all waiting on tenterhooks to see if he’ll take to the field is Liverpool’s main man Suarez. We all know him well, of course, as a wonderful mixture of sublime skill, great goals and headline making antics. For Uruguay, he is already their leading goal-scorer of all time and scored six times in qualifying. His PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards came off the back of a fantastic season for his club, scoring 31 league goals in 33 games. If he doesn’t regain fitness in time the World Cup will be missing one of its true stars and the footballing world (bar Group D opponents England) will miss him more. At 27 year's old he is in the prime of his career and, if fit, will light up Brazil.
7/10 Daniel Sturridge - England
While many fans and the media are questioning Wayne Rooney’s starting place for England, there’s another man waiting to make his impact on the world stage in Brazil. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring in England’s warm-up victory over Peru in some style, curling in from 25 yards and that is exactly what Roy Hodgson and the country will be hoping to see much more of. Sturridge scored 21 league goals for Liverpool last season, finishing the league’s second highest scorer behind teammate Luis Suarez and being named in the PFA Team-of-the-Year. He gives England something different with his young, fresh arrogance and sheer ability. The Three Lions will need him in the goals if they are to make any impact in Brazil.
8/10 Jackson Martinez - Colombia
In the absence for Radamel Falcao, Martinez will take on the role as star striker for Colombia. Martinez has been working hard in Portugal for the past two seasons with Porto, finishing the league’s top-scorer two years in succession and earning plaudits from across the world. After Colombia were handed a relatively simple group, opinions for the country’s chances rose and if they can turn their free-flowing football into goals, they could go far and Martinez could end up top of the goal scoring tables. He bagged three in qualifying and has since scored a hat full of goals in friendly matches. One to look out for, that’s for sure.
9/10 Mario Mandzukic - Croatia
Group A seems to already be a fight for second place with Brazil surely bossing it. Croatia have the best chance of the other three teams in progressing to the next round and could well be a big surprise this summer. Mandzukic will benefit hugely from having the in-form and dynamic duo of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric behind him, who will supply him with chances he'll need to help the Croats make an impact. The 28-year-old scored 18 league goals last season for Bayern Munich, a club he is seemingly destined to leave this summer with Arsenal a possibility. He netted three times in qualifying and scored a vital goal in Croatia's play-off game against Iceland, a match he was also sent off in. He’s big, strong and has real quality and will be part of a Croatian team who could do well in Brazil.
10/10 Romelu Lukaku - Belgium
After two seasons banging in the goals on loan for West Brom and Everton, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea will surely give Lukaku the chance he deserves in their team next season. If not he must find pastures new to further his career once he returns from World Cup duty. Still just 21-years-old, Lukaku is on the verge of becoming a top player. He has the power, strength and skill needed to be considered a great and if he can show his quality on the biggest stage at the World Cup, he’ll be well on his way. He scored twice in qualifying, not a great return, but now, with Christian Benteke and Kevin Mirallas out injured, his country needs him to step up and get in the goals. Belgium are one team that many people expect big things from given the quality of their squad and the manner of their unbeaten qualification campaign.
Ronaldo and his team-mates needed only two minutes to force their way in front, Almeida capitalising on an inch-perfect cross from impressive winger Varela to head firmly past keeper David Forde.
They doubled their lead with 20 minutes gone, although with the help of a slice of good fortune when Fabio Coentrao's cross clipped defender Richard Keogh and looped over Forde.
The Ireland keeper was beaten again eight minutes before the break when he could only block Ronaldo's header to Almeida, who duly obliged, and, although James McClean pulled one back for Martin O'Neill's men seven minutes before the break with his first senior goal for his country, hope of a fightback was short-lived.
It was substitute Nani who re-imposed Portugal's superiority, first feeding fellow newcomer Vierinha to score from close range before setting up Coentrao to round things off seven minutes from time.
It proved a sobering evening for O'Neill and his players as their summer programme drew to a disappointing close.
The manager said: "I thought we started nervously, and that was something we wanted to try and avoid. Two of their goals came from our possession, which we gave away needlessly.
"Those are the things that over the course of the European championships you have to try and cut out. I thought we came to grips with it - we got the goal back and looked dangerous at times.
"We were still trying to chase it to get back to 3-2. When I finally sit down and analyse it, there should be things I am happy about and obviously things we need to improve."
O'Neill was not too concerned at the margin of defeat, insisting that, had his team shut up shop at 3-1, it was not have seemed too bad a result.
He said: "I feel it is not disheartening in the sense that it was 3-1 and if we shut up shop, it is 3-1 and it doesn't seem so bad.
"I am not too bothered. I have done this before at club level, trying to chase games and stay as positive as possible, and considering the changes that we made and some of our main players not playing, I don't think this will kill us off.
"It was as tough a game as we expected it to be. But it was also game that I wanted us to participate in because this it is what it is about: playing one of the best teams in the world heading to the World Cup.
"Portugal played well throughout the match and it was a stern test for us."