Republic of Ireland 1 Portugal 5 match report: Cristiano Ronaldo returns to fitness to help Portugal rout Irish in final World Cup warm-up match

Ronaldo has been an injury concern for Portugal with a thigh and knee injury but showed no signs of being hampered in yesterday's international friendly

Cristiano Ronaldo confirmed his return to fitness as Portugal completed their World Cup preparations with a comfortable victory over the Republic of Ireland.

The Portuguese captain, who had missed the earlier warm-up games against Greece and Mexico through a combination of knee and thigh injuries, started at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and played a leading role as his side raced into a 3-0 lead on their way to a 5-1 win.

Ronaldo had a hand in the third goal, having earlier hit the post with a free-kick, and showed few signs of being hampered by any fitness concerns.

However, it was striker Hugo Almeida who took centre-stage, heading Portugal into a second-minute lead and, after Richard Keogh's own goal had put them further ahead, claiming a second eight minutes before the interval.

James McClean's first strike for his country on his 23rd senior appearance gave the Republic hope seven minutes after the break, but substitute Vierinha struck 12 minutes from time and Fabio Coentrao added a fifth as newcomer Nani produced a superb late cameo performance.

While Portugal boss Paulo Bento included his highest-profile player for obvious reasons, opposite number Martin O'Neill left his sitting on the bench having hinted that he might in his pre-match press conference when he said he knew all he needed to about Robbie Keane.

Eight days short of 20 years since Ireland famously defeated Italy 1-0 in the World Cup finals at the old Giants Stadium, a team which included only a handful of regular starters ran out hoping to spring a similar surprise, if in different circumstances.

However, the game was over as a contest long before the half-time whistle as the Portuguese flexed their muscle in impressive style.

They needed barely two minutes to get their noses in front when winger Varela, in what was to become something of a theme, found himself in space down the right and delivered the perfect cross for unmarked striker Almeida to head firmly past goalkeeper David Forde.

Ronaldo had already served notice of his intent with a deft turn which took him away from Jeff Hendrick and David Meyler on halfway, although his scuffed shot had an element of rust about it.

But he tested Forde further with a left-footed drive 13 minutes later, and the Millwall keeper reacted superbly to deny Raul Meireles from the follow-up.

Ronaldo was warming to his task, although clearly unhappy with the playing surface after slipping on more than one occasion, and McClean could have been forgiven for thinking he had done just that with 18 minutes played when the Portugal captain hit the deck after the merest of contacts.

The Real Madrid star dusted himself down and curled the resulting free-kick around the wall and past Forde's dive, only for the foot of the post to intervene.

The respite was only temporary, however, and the Republic fell further behind when full-back Coentrao's cross clipped the unfortunate Keogh and sailed over the stranded Forde's head before dropping inside the far post.

Skipper for the night Jon Walters produced Ireland's first effort on target, but his 27th-minute header from McClean's cross was directed straight at keeper Rui Patricio.

But Portugal were cruising with playmaker William orchestrating from the middle of the field and Varela terrorising on the right as Ronaldo floated menacingly ahead of them.

They increased their lead eight minutes before the break when Forde could only parry Ronaldo's header from yet another Varela cross to Almeida, who made no mistake from close range.

Bento resisted the temptation to remove his star man from the fray at the break, but Ireland made a better fist of it in the early stages of the second half as wingers McClean and Aiden McGeady found themselves in advanced positions on several occasions.

They got their reward seven minutes into the half when Wes Hoolahan played a quick free-kick to McClean on the right side of the penalty area, and he stepped inside before dispatching a low left-footed shot past Patricio.

Portugal's response was concerted and, having wasted one free-kick by thumping it straight into the defensive wall, Ronaldo forced Forde into a diving save with a second on 57 minutes.

Varela could have wrapped up the win had he been able to collect Ronaldo's return pass after the pair launched a lightning break-out, but substitutes Nani and Vierinha combined in fine style on 78 minutes, and the former set up Coentrao for an exquisite fifth five minutes later as the Republic wilted.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing