Fernando Santos has extended his contract with Portugal, signing a deal to remain as coach through Euro 2024.

The 65-year-old took charge of his national team in 2014 and led the Selecao to glory at Euro 2016 and at the inaugural Nations League Finals in 2019.

His previous contract had been set to expire after Euro 2020, which has been pushed back until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Santos will remain in charge of that tournament and his extension includes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Euro 2024 too.

"It's a privilege for me and for my coaching staff to continue with this project," Santos said.

"We know we won't be able to win everything, but we will always try."

Santos, who has previously been in charge of Porto, Sporting CP and Greece, holds the record for the Portugal coach with the most wins.

The Selecao have won 44 of their 71 games under Santos.

Fernando Santos has claimed defending champions Portugal are outsiders in a Euro 2020 group containing "two favourites" in France and Germany.

The three heavyweights were drawn together in a tough-looking Group F for next year's tournament, with a play-off contestant still to be added.

France and Germany will enter as winners of the past two World Cups, while Portugal are preparing to defend the trophy they unexpectedly won in 2016.

Santos' side were also crowned inaugural Nations League champions in June but the wily 65-year-old coach quickly positioned his team as underdogs.

"It will be a strong group, two favourites and a candidate," Santos told reporters.

"[France and Germany] have a responsibility to win and they have to assume that responsibility. We will believe in our possibilities. We come as candidates and obviously we want to win.

"Two world champions, a European champion and winner of the Nations League – I think this is a group that nobody wanted because each team wanted to avoid the other two.

"Everyone will respect each other and just wait to see who will be the fourth."

Portugal finished second behind Ukraine in their qualifying group, losing once and drawing twice in eight games.

Fernando Santos expects Portugal to compete strongly for back-to-back European titles but does not think his defending champions are favourites heading into Euro 2020.

Goals from Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo – his 99th in international colours – secured a battling 2-0 win in Luxembourg on Sunday and made sure of Portugal's place in next year's tournament.

Santos' side only won one game inside 90 minutes as they ground their way to glory in France in 2016.

The emergence of Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Ruben Neves and Fernandes, alongside the presence of the evergreen Ronaldo, arguably gives the veteran coach a far stronger squad than the one that won a maiden major international honour for the country.

However, much as Santos never talked down Portugal's Euro 2016 prospects, he was not about to play cheerleader.

"We are candidates at the Euros, we never assume as we are favourites," he told a post-match news conference.

"The Portuguese team has quality. When Portugal can gather creativity, quality and artistic notes, and at the same time realise that the game, at certain times, needs other things, [we are] practically unbeatable.

"It is not easy to beat Portugal, Portugal have all the conditions to be able to make a good European Championship. 

"The status is the same as always. When we went to Euro 2016, they said it was crazy when I said Portugal was a candidate."

A wretched playing surface at Stade Josy Barthel frustrated Portugal for long periods as they were unable to locate the free-flowing form that brushed aside Lithuania 6-0 on Thursday.

Ronaldo's expected canter towards a century of international goals never materialised, with a poached effort from on the goal line in the 86th minute all the Juventus star had to show for his efforts.

"It was not an exhibition with artistic notes, as it was against Lithuania," Santos said.

"Before the game we could not appreciate the situation of the pitch, but we were aware of how it was and the truth is that posed some problems, especially in the circulation of the ball.

"The players had difficulty getting their foot on the ball. For the first 20 minutes, we couldn't get the game right and Luxembourg are a team that presses well and are physically strong.

"From the 25th minute, things got more balanced, we started playing differently and scored the [Fernandes] goal.

"It was a tougher game than we expected but it showed the character and personality of these players."

Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness was never a doubt for Portugal coach Fernando Santos as the star forward scored a hat-trick in Thursday's 6-0 victory over Lithuania.

Ronaldo was far from a certain starter for the Euro 2020 qualifier at Estadio Algarve after being substituted in Juventus' last two matches.

Juve boss Maurizio Sarri attributed the early withdrawal against Milan last weekend to a bruised knee, but the 34-year-old played 83 minutes against Lithuania and showed no signs of fatigue.

Asked how Ronaldo was feeling when substituted late on, Santos told RTP: "He's fine. I had no doubt about that, as I said before the match. Other people did, but I didn't have any doubts."

Ronaldo opened the scoring early on from a penalty he won and curled in a second prior to half-time, before completing his hat-trick 25 minutes from the end. 

Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes was full of praise for his team-mate, who is now up to 98 goals for the reigning European champions.

"What we have is a very motivated Cristiano, who always gives his best," Fernandes said. "He scored three times, which is normal for him."

Pizzi, Goncalo Paciencia and Bernardo Silva were also on target for Portugal, who can seal second place in Group B if they beat Luxembourg in their final qualifier on Sunday.

Santos felt his side could have scored more than twice in the first half, but was ultimately pleased with the resounding scoreline following last month's 2-1 loss to Ukraine.

"The players stuck to the plan," he said. "We played very well in the first half, with lots of variety to our game and plenty of control. 

"At the break we could have had more goals. But after scoring the fourth we could afford to rest ready for the next game.

"We'll try to beat Luxembourg in the same manner, but we have less than 72 hours to recover so we'll see."

Persistent questions about Cristiano Ronaldo saw Portugal coach Fernando Santos reach the end of his tether at his pre-match news conference.

Ronaldo has been substituted in his past two appearances for Juventus and reportedly left the stadium before full-time against AC Milan last time out, as replacement Paulo Dybala struck the winner.

The suggestion Ronaldo was unhappy dominated the agenda as Portugal faced the media on Wednesday, with Ruben Neves insisting his team-mate was "fine".

But Santos was not willing to similarly answer questions on the forward, believing the profile of the player meant too much was being read into the Juventus substitution.

"Everybody wants to talk about Cristiano Ronaldo, everybody wants to give their opinion on Cristiano Ronaldo," he said ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Lithuania.

"Because if this thing [the substitution] was with any other player, nobody would be talking about it. We are only talking about this because it's Cristiano Ronaldo.

"There are millions of players out there and it seems that this only happens to him and maybe another two or three players. To nobody else.

"Cristiano is here, he was called up, he's fine, he'll play, I have no doubts about it. So, for me, there's no issue here."

Santos clearly felt he had made his stance clear, as he replied to the next question on Ronaldo: "Cristiano Ronaldo again? No, sorry, sorry.

"On Cristiano Ronaldo again, I'm talking about Portugal. You are talking to me about Cristiano. Cristiano, no. I won't talk about Cristiano anymore.

"For me, the theme of Cristiano Ronaldo ends here."

Portugal will qualify for next year's European Championship finals if they beat Lithuania while Serbia fail to defeat Luxembourg.

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