Ronaldo laughs off pressure

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The Independent Football

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo insists he never felt under pressure before finally ending his two-year goalscoring drought in the 7-0 battering of North Korea.

Carlos Queiroz's side made the drab goalless draw with Ivory Coast in their opening World Cup Group G match a distant memory with a display of ruthlessness and verve to dismantle their spirited rivals in Cape Town yesterday.



Ronaldo improved following a poor first half - from which his side held only a one-goal lead - and was a key figure in a stunning second 45 minutes featuring six goals.



Only one of those goals was his and it was a fortuitous one at that, but Ronaldo - who last scored a competitive goal at Euro 2008 - was not too concerned.



"I knew the goal would come eventually," he said. "It's normal (to have these spells), I didn't feel under pressure about it.



"I smiled when I scored because it was a funny goal, the way it hit me on the neck."



Ronaldo was happy to share the plaudits after the game and disagreed with the official decision to hand him the man of the match award.



"I gave the man of the match prize to Tiago because he played better and it was only fair to give the trophy to him," he revealed.



Raul Meireles scored in the first half before Simao Sabrosa, Hugo Almeida and Tiago hit one apiece within seven second-half minutes of each other. Liedson and Ronaldo got in on the act before Tiago grabbed his second in the dying minutes.



Although mathematically they have yet to seal their last-16 place, Portugal's performance yesterday was so impressive they can now turn their attention to beating Brazil and trying to top the group.



Their hopes of achieving that are boosted by the absence of key Brazilian Kaka, who was harshly dismissed against the Ivory Coast for tangling with Kader Keita.



Ronaldo said of his Real Madrid colleague: "It's not fair because Kaka did nothing in my opinion, and now he won't play against us.



"He didn't deserve that red card.



"I saw the game and I spoke with him about it afterwards. He was angry at the time but after the game he's cool, he understands it's part of the game."



Queiroz, meanwhile, wished North Korea well having inflicted such a battering on them.



"I hope North Korea will at least win one a point at the World Cup, given their attitude and performance," he said.



North Korea coach Kim Jong-hun immediately deflected blame from his players following the match and believes they can still count on public support.



"Back home I believe they will be looking ahead to the next game," he said. "We have one left and they will be rooting for us to play well in that.



"We cannot now achieve our objective, to progress, but we will reinforce our mental state and really work hard."



He added: "Against the Ivory Coast we'll have to rethink our strategy and tactics. Portugal have very strong individual players and a fast passing style. We did prepare for that, but it was not sufficient."



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