Mesut Ozil described Cristiano Ronaldo as "one of the greatest athletes in sports history" and does not believe his former Real Madrid team-mate is being shown sufficient respect in the twilight of his career.

Free agent Ronaldo has fallen out of favour at club and now international level, having been named among the substitutes for Portugal's 6-1 win over Switzerland on Tuesday.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is also currently without a club after his contract with Manchester United, where he struggled for playing time, was terminated by mutual consent.

Ronaldo's replacement on Tuesday, Benfica youngster Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick against Switzerland and is now set to keep his place for Saturday's quarter-final tie with Morocco.

Istanbul Basaksehir midfielder Ozil played alongside Ronaldo in the Spanish capital between 2010 and 2013, and has taken to social media to launch a robust defence of his former team-mate.

"I really don't get where this constant negativity from the press about Cristiano comes from," he wrote on Twitter.

"The media is just trying to get clicks, and pundits who don't have a career anymore just want to get attention with his big name and try to make him look bad.

"He is soon 38 years old - so what's the surprise that he doesn't score 50 goals a season anymore? Every football fan out there should be happy to have seen him playing world-class football for 20 years.

"I don't think anyone from the new generation will be able to match his numbers again. He will forever be in his own category. Everyone should show more respect to one of the greatest athletes in sports history."

Cristiano Ronaldo has never asked to leave the Portugal squad at the World Cup, but coach Fernando Santos did admit the veteran striker was not happy at being left out against Switzerland.

The 37-year-old was omitted for the round of 16 clash with Switzerland with Portugal cruising to a 6-1 win in his absence to set up a quarter-final clash with Morocco on Saturday.

Reports had suggested there had been a major fall-out between Santos and Ronaldo with the latter threatening to walk out, but that was flatly denied.

Santos said: "We had a conversation. I don't do that with all the players but he's the captain of the squad. You know what he represents for Portuguese football, for the Portuguese people and for the national team.

"It was on the day of the match after lunch. I explained to him why he would not play and said in terms of our strategy 'I think it would be better if you did not start. I think the game will be difficult and I will save you for the second half'.

"Cristiano was obviously not very happy as he has always been a starting player. But we had a normal conversation in which I explained my points and he accepted them.

"He never told me he wanted to leave the national team."

Santos often wears the look of an exasperated man but he was especially perplexed by the repeated questions relating to the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star.

"It's high time we stopped with this conversation and look at what he did in the match," he added.

"He warmed up with his colleagues, he celebrated all the goals and he was the one who invited the players to applaud the fans at the end. It's time for you [the media] to leave Cristiano alone.

"Ninety per cent of the questions are about Cristiano."

Ronaldo's replacement against Switzerland, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick as part of a team that displayed more verve and attacking threat than in previous games in Qatar.

Santos refused to confirm whether Ramos would keep his place against Morocco or if Ronaldo would return.

"Just because a team wins doesn't mean you can't change it," he said. "The team we play on Saturday will present different challenges, they are a very different team to Switzerland.

"They are well-organised with many players who play for the biggest clubs in the world. This will not be an easy game."

Playmaker Joao Felix was another who shone against the Swiss, arguably playing his best game of the tournament. Asked if he felt the shackles had been released with Ronaldo absent, he said: "I don't think it's mandatory to pass to Cristiano. We try to pass to the player that's available. 

"Independent of Cristiano being on the field, we have the same tactics, the ones we've been using for all four games. He has skills that other players have and vice-versa. We, as a team, have our own identity and we focus on that."

Portugal may have looked better without Cristiano Ronaldo in the last 16, but Morocco coach Walid Regragui is hoping to see the superstar forward on the bench again.

Ronaldo was dropped by Fernando Santos after angering the Portugal coach with an exchange in their final World Cup group game against South Korea.

The 37-year-old's absence was not felt against Switzerland, however, as Portugal won 6-1, with Goncalo Ramos replacing Ronaldo and scoring a stunning hat-trick.

Santos will surely stick with the same team again when his side take on Morocco in the quarter-finals, but Regragui would prefer that to be the case.

"I don't know if Ronaldo will start. I hope he won't," Regragui said. "As a coach, I know he's one of the best players in history. I'd be delighted if he didn't play.

"But we're not going to focus on Portugal. They're hungry, they also want to get into the history books.

"We're going to have more supporters in the stadium, and we can do it."

Throughout his pre-match news conference on Friday, Regragui outlined his ambition to make history, with Morocco already enjoying their best run at a World Cup.

Discussing pre-tournament predictions that had Morocco failing in the group stage, he said: "They all thought they knew who was going to win the World Cup. We are here, too.

"Our players are hungry. We're not satisfied with what we've done so far."

Cristiano Ronaldo's acrimonious Manchester United exit "won't affect" his legacy at Old Trafford, former team-mate Diego Forlan told Stats Perform.

United announced earlier this month they had reached a mutual agreement with Ronaldo to terminate his contract with immediate effect, following a controversial interview prior to the World Cup.

The Portugal captain, who scored 145 goals in 346 appearances for the club, did not hold back with his array of criticisms, including ones directed towards manager Erik ten Hag, and it became apparent he was on borrowed time at Old Trafford.

Forlan played alongside Ronaldo during the latter's debut season with the Red Devils in 2003-04, and the ex-Uruguay forward was disappointed at the nature of his former team-mate's departure.

"It won't affect [his legacy], but obviously it wasn't the best [exit]," he said. "The truth is that it was a pity, because we are talking about one of the best players in history, a great professional and a club that is an example.

"The fact that it's broken, it is a real shame. Because he, like other great footballers that were players at the club, were ambassadors of the club itself.

"In general, these kind of players have the chance to play where they want, but maybe not where they would prefer now, because of their age.

"Some clubs would love to have them, but today it is more difficult because clubs look more at numbers and age, and the teams start taking other decisions. But will have to see what motivates him, what he likes and which options of different clubs will be available for him." 

Controversy has followed Ronaldo to the World Cup, where Portugal were forced to deny reports he had quit the squad after being dropped to the bench for the thumping 6-1 win over Switzerland in the last 16.

That came after head coach Fernando Santos criticised his reaction to being substituted against South Korea, and it remains to be seen if Ronaldo will feature in their quarter-final showdown with Morocco on Saturday.

This is likely to be the 37-year-old's swansong at the finals, while the same can be said of long-time rival Lionel Messi, with Argentina set to face the Netherlands in the last eight.

Should this be the last stand for both players on the world's biggest stage, Forlan believes seeing either of them lift the trophy would provide a fitting ending to their international careers.

"It is what they are looking for," he added. "They have so many titles, many of them repeated many times, that it would be the grand finale, to end with a World Cup."

The former Uruguay captain, who was the joint-top scorer as La Celeste reached the 2010 semi-finals, is backing leading scorer Kylian Mbappe to go on and land the Golden Boot.

 "[The Golden Boot race] will depend on the team, how far it goes," he said. "If France has the chance to reach the final, I think that Mbappe has enough goals to be able to win the Golden Boot." 

A move to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Paris Saint-Germain would be "impossible", according to club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Ronaldo and Manchester United parted ways after an explosive interview in which the Portugal star said he felt "betrayed" by senior figures at the club, while claiming to have "no respect" for manager Erik ten Hag.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's exit has led to much discussion over his next club, with Ligue 1 giants PSG one of the teams rumoured to be interested in making a move for the 37-year-old.

But PSG president Al-Khelaifi ruled out any potential deal, although he did speak highly of the former Real Madrid man.

"He's a legend, he's a star," Al-Khelaifi told Sky Sports News. "The footballer, I admire and love him as a player and professional. A fantastic player.

"He's 37 now – he's doing amazing. But every single club wants to sign him too. The problem today for us is we have the position [filled] – his position – so it's not easy to replace the position that we have with him.

"It would be impossible, honestly, for us."

One of those players PSG have in Ronaldo's position is Kylian Mbappe, who is currently leading the goalscoring charts at the World Cup in Qatar with France.

Mbappe was heavily linked with a move from PSG to Real Madrid earlier this year, but the 23-year-old instead signed a bumper new contract to stay in the French capital.

Al-Khelaifi believes it was vital to keep Mbappe at PSG, saying: "For me he's a very top, top player and a top human being, professional.

"For me it was really key he stayed and he didn't leave for free. That's another important point.

"As I always said, I always trusted him, trusted his family because we created something of a special relation with the player and them and that's why… he's Parisian, he's French and he's proud always to be in France."

Cristiano Ronaldo must understand "time passes for everyone" and accept he may no longer be a regular pick for Portugal, former Brazil defender Junior has told Stats Perform.

Free agent Ronaldo has fallen out of favour at club and now international level, having been named among the substitutes for Portugal's 6-1 win over Switzerland on Tuesday.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is also currently without a club after his contract with Manchester United, where he struggled for playing time, was terminated by mutual consent.

Ronaldo's replacement, Benfica youngster Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick against Switzerland and is now set to keep his place for Saturday's quarter-final tie with Morocco.

Junior, who earned 74 caps for Brazil and appeared at two World Cups, believes Portugal boss Fernando Santos deserves praise for his huge selection call.

"You need to have the courage to put Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench and the coach did," Junior said.

"And there was the answer he got - it was Goncalo Ramos scoring three goals. It's not just for the goals, but for his collective behaviour, I'm talking about the game as a whole.

"Time passes for everyone. Naturally, Cristiano will understand this in the best way so that he can continue to have the great respect that the group has for him. 

"He is the main player of the Portuguese national team for the last 10 years. Just look at everything the Portuguese team did before and after. But time passes for everyone."

Portugal are joined in the last eight of Qatar 2022 by next opponents Morocco, Argentina, the Netherlands, Brazil, Croatia, France and England.

Record five-time champions Brazil, who beat South Korea 4-1 in the last 16, remain the favourites of many to end their 20-year drought and lift the trophy once again.

Richarlison has arguably been Brazil's best player so far in Qatar, the Tottenham man's three goals placing him joint-second in the goalscoring charts behind Kylian Mbappe.

He has led the line in three of Brazil's four games, the exception being the loss to Cameroon when Tite heavily rotated, and Junior has been impressed by the versatile forward.

"Richarlison rebuilt himself within the national team because he was a player who had much more visibility playing on the wings previously," Junior said. 

"When we see him playing the role of centre-forward, we see that he has recovered and is now in the starting line-up. 

"On the sides of the pitch, it'd be difficult for him with Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Neymar who also play there. So, he started to evolve exactly in that centre-forward position. 

"The goal he scored with a volley in the first game is from a player who has great capacity and great resources when a situation like that presents itself."

 

Tite has made full use of his squad, so much so that he has already used all 26 members of his group – the most ever fielded by a team at a single World Cup.

The Brazil head coach brought on third-choice goalkeeper Weverton against South Korea to complete the set, which Junior says offers an insight into Tite's character.

"As happened in 2006 with Rogerio Ceni, Tite has done the same with Weverton. He's made sure he not only travels to the World Cup but is also on the pitch.

"This type of attitude strengths the group a lot. It's one of Tite's most important qualities: valuing the whole squad, including the third keeper, who rarely plays at a World Cup."

Tyson Fury issued a warning to Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting "no matter who you are, age will get you eventually".

The Portugal captain, who entered the World Cup fresh from his acrimonious departure from Manchester United, has scored just once in four appearances in Qatar.

That goal came from the penalty spot against Ghana in his nation's opening match.

Having been criticised by head coach Fernando Santos for his reaction to being substituted during the Group H clash with South Korea, Ronaldo was then dropped for Portugal's comprehensive 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the last 16.

After being left out of the starting line-up, A Selecao have subsequently strongly denied reports the 37-year-old threatened to quit the squad during what is likely to be his swansong at the finals.

Fury - the WBC heavyweight champion and a lifelong United fan - insisted he empathises with Ronaldo, who he feels is no longer at the peak of his powers.

The undefeated boxer drew comparisons with his iconic victory over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. 

"At the time, beating Klitschko was the Everest," Fury told talkSPORT. 

"I was the heavy underdog, people thought I was going to get smashed to pieces, and he was the unified champion for 11 years and at some point, he thought he was unbeatable.

"But I went over to Germany and beat him. In this game, it's not about how much better somebody is than the other person.

"A lot of it has to do with natural stuff, like age, and at 38 years old, you are on the decline - whether you want to admit it or not.

"If you look at Cristiano Ronaldo, he's 37 years old, he's had the best doctors, the best physiotherapists - he's lived like an egg in Mr Kipling's cake.

"But even Ronaldo is on the slide now.

"So even someone who has looked after himself like that, it catches up to you - so, imagine a boxer who has been punched to pieces for the last 20 years!

"The age factor will not wait for anybody, no matter how you've lived. 

"Whether you've never had a drink in your life, if you've never run on any hard surfaces, no matter who you are, age will get you eventually."

Ronaldo will hope to be reinstated to the starting line-up when Portugal face Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday, with his team aiming to reach the semi-finals for only the third time.

Cristiano Ronaldo declared Portugal are "too close to be broken by outside forces" in response to reports he threatened to leave the World Cup.

Portuguese outlet Record claimed on Thursday that Ronaldo threatened to leave his country's camp in Qatar after being told he would not start the last-16 tie with Switzerland.

That came on the back of head coach Fernando Santos criticising the captain's reaction to being substituted in the 2-1 loss to South Korea in the final group game.

However, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) was quick to deny that Ronaldo, who came on as a substitute in Tuesday's 6-1 win over Switzerland, made any sort of threat.

And free agent Ronaldo took to Twitter shortly after vowing to continue giving his all in Portugal's bid to win a first World Cup.

"A group too close to be broken by outside forces," the forward posted alongside an image of his team-mates celebrating a goal against Switzerland. 

"A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary. A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe with us! Strength, Portugal!"

The FPF earlier stated: "News released this Thursday reports that Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team during a conversation with Fernando Santos.

"The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the Selecao, Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team during the stay in Qatar.

"Ronaldo builds up a unique track record every day at the service of the national team and the country, which must be respected and which attests to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team.

"Incidentally, the degree of dedication of the player most capped by Portugal was again demonstrated – if necessary – in the victory against Switzerland."

Ronaldo's replacement, Benfica youngster Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in the thumping win against Switzerland to set up a quarter-final with Morocco on Saturday.

Santos is expected to stick with Ramos against Spain's conquerors Morocco, meaning a place on the bench once again for Ronaldo.

Ronaldo, who did not take part in full training on Wednesday, is both Portugal's most-capped player (195) and all-time leading goalscorer (118).

Cristiano Ronaldo provided Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti with no problems during their time together at Santiago Bernabeu, the head coach has insisted.

The 37-year-old is a free agent following his dramatic release from Manchester United ahead of the World Cup, which came after a seismic interview with Piers Morgan where he slammed the club's owners and manager Erik ten Hag.

Having fallen out of favour at Old Trafford, Ronaldo found himself struggling for selection once again on the international stage after being dropped by Portugal for their 6-1 last-16 triumph over Switzerland.

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) have insisted Ronaldo did not threaten to leave Portugal's World Cup camp due to a disagreement with coach Fernando Santos in the wake of being named as a substitute.

However, Ancelotti has made it clear that he never experienced any challenges during the pair's time together in the Spanish capital.

"I had him for two years, zero problems. In fact, he solved them for me," Ancelotti told Corriere Dello Sport.

"Can someone who scores at least one goal per game be considered a problem?

"Cristiano trains very well, he is attentive to detail, for me it was all too easy to manage him. He's an exceptional player.

"With me, he will have played a hundred games and scored more than a hundred goals, one who scores 50 every year is someone who does good for the team."

Ancelotti was asked whether he considers this tournament to be the 'last dance' for Ronaldo, though he is not sure that assessment is correct.

"I don't know - he probably still feels 20-years-old because he is fine, from his body he has the answer he seeks," added Ancelotti.

"He has always treated the physique in an almost paroxysmal way.

"But the competition has become tough, for Portugal even someone like [Rafael] Leao starts from the bench."

Back at club level, Ancelotti is looking to knock Barcelona off their perch at the top of LaLiga and has positive news regarding Karim Benzema, who was ruled out of the World Cup with France.

"He's coming back on Saturday, we will put it right," he said on the forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo did not threaten to leave Portugal's World Cup camp due to a disagreement with coach Fernando Santos.

That is according to the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), after reports emerged that Ronaldo had said he would abandon the squad following Santos' decision to drop him to the bench for the round of 16 game against Switzerland.

Portugal went on to win 6-1 on Tuesday, with Ronaldo coming on as a substitute and having a goal disallowed for offside.

In a statement released on Thursday, the FPF insisted there was no issue between the 37-year-old and Santos.

"News released this Thursday reports that Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team during a conversation with Fernando Santos," the statement read.

"The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the Selecao, Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team during the stay in Qatar.

"Ronaldo builds up a unique track record every day at the service of the national team and the country, which must be respected and which attests to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team.

"Incidentally, the degree of dedication of the player most capped by Portugal was again demonstrated – if necessary – in the victory against Switzerland."

Ronaldo's replacement against Switzerland, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick, and with Portugal having performed so well without their skipper in the starting line-up, it seems unlikely Santos will draft the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus forward back in for Saturday's quarter-final against Morocco.

Cristiano Ronaldo will still believe he will score the winning goal in the World Cup final, according to former Real Madrid full-back Michel Salgado.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos started Ronaldo on the bench for their last-16 clash with Switzerland on Tuesday, which worked out well as his replacement, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win.

It came just two weeks after Ronaldo and Manchester United agreed to terminate his contract, with coach Erik ten Hag shaping his team largely without the 37-year-old, despite him being the Premier League side's top scorer last season.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Salgado explained how it can feel to go through a decline in importance near the end of a playing career, but added his belief that Ronaldo will still want to prove the doubters wrong.

"We all need to face changes, it's life, and he is being put under pressure constantly," he said. "But he needs to live with it, we all went through that, at one point we were super important in our career, and at some point there is a change.

"You can see that other guy is coming, that they can play without you, and you realise that they play without you and win without you. But, obviously, what Cristiano means for football is huge, we will miss him.

"I know him well and he is not going to put his head down. He is going to still be thinking today that he is going to score the World Cup winning goal and that Portugal are going to be champions with him, and no one will convince him otherwise."

 

Salgado left Madrid in 2009, shortly after Ronaldo had arrived from United, and thinks the five-time Ballon d'Or winner could still have an important part to play for his national side in Qatar, who face Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

"I think we need to leave him alone, Portugal won clearly with him, the alternative of using another player instead of him worked for the coach," he added. "He had the personality to look for solutions without Ronaldo, but if I were a manager, and I believe Fernando [Santos] knows it, you need to count on Ronaldo if you want to win this World Cup. That is clear.

"What is needed is Ronaldo mentally finding his place, and keeping focused on the national team, come what may. But it is very obviously a moment of change for him."

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is "looking to the future" rather than dwelling on the past after drawing a line under the Cristiano Ronaldo saga.

Ronaldo's United contract was terminated by mutual consent last month following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he said he felt "betrayed" by the club.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner also said he had "no respect" for Ten Hag, having been left frustrated by playing a bit-part role under the Dutchman this season.

Commenting on Ronaldo's tumultuous exit for the first time, Ten Hag made clear he wants to move on and focus only on the players in his squad.

"He's gone and it's the past," he told MUTV during United's warm-weather training camp in Spain. "We are now looking forward and we're looking to the future."

Ronaldo top-scored for United with 24 goals in all competitions last season, but he had been restricted to just four starts in United's opening 14 Premier League games this term.

United made a slow start to Ten Hag's first season in charge, but they have since recovered to move within three points of the top four with a game in hand.

"When you change things in organisation and change the way of playing, that takes time," said Ten Hag, who won three Eredivisie titles in five years with Ajax.  

"In top-level football, you never get time. Opponents they want to kill you and that happened. We had to quickly adapt and I think our squad did terrific. 

"The mentality changed and I think our way of playing changed during the season, the style, and I think we are growing and we have to keep the process going."

United beat Fulham 2-1 in their final outing prior to the five-week break for the World Cup, with their next competitive fixture an EFL Cup last-16 tie with Burnley on December 21.

Fifteen United players have been taking part in the World Cup, with 12 still remaining, and Ten Hag wants them to hit the ground running once they return to club duty.

"We had a plan. We have prepared the players with what the plan is so there can't be any confusion about what the programme is," Ten Hag said.

"We make the players aware of the fact that, after you are out of the World Cup, you have to return to the club and the league immediately goes on. 

"Our players are winners, and they are battling now for the World Cup and in the moment they are out – hopefully one is the winner – they have to deal with that. 

"With the success they have, or the defeats, they have to deal with it and of course they have to be ready for another challenge."

Cristiano Ronaldo hailed Portugal's "historic" World Cup win over Switzerland, a match in which he was dropped by head coach Fernando Santos.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos named his superstar forward on the bench having been left disappointed by his reaction to being substituted in their final group-stage game against South Korea.

It marked another chapter in a tumultuous period for Ronaldo, who departed Manchester United by mutual consent in the wake of an incendiary interview with Piers Morgan.

Santos later said the matter had been solved internally, but Ronaldo's replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick and assisted another in the 6-1 rout of Switzerland that set up a quarter-final tie with Morocco.

Ronaldo did come off the bench and had a goal rightly ruled offside, before later hailing the performance of the team via an Instagram post.

"Amazing day for Portugal, with a historic result in the biggest contest in world soccer. Luxury display by a team full of talent and youth," he wrote.

"Congratulations to our national team. The dream is alive! To the very end! Come on, Portugal!"

Portugal coach Fernando Santos insists his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo is unchanged despite dropping the captain for Tuesday's 6-1 win over Switzerland at the World Cup.

Ronaldo was benched after Santos expressed his disappointment with the striker's attitude following his substitution during last week's defeat to South Korea.

Santos said on Monday the matter had been resolved internally, but Ronaldo was then dropped to the bench for the clash at Lusail Stadium, starting a major-tournament match among the substitutes for the first time since 2008 (31 games).

A fan poll on the website of Portuguese newspaper A Bola suggested 70 per cent of Portugal fans wanted Ronaldo out of the team, and the Selecao went on to produce one of their best performances at a major tournament in years.

Goncalo Ramos replaced Ronaldo in the attack and had a hand in four goals, including a hat-trick, but Santos did not commit to keeping faith in the Benfica prospect for the quarter-final against Morocco.

Santos told reporters: "That's still something that has to be defined [who starts in the next game]. I already answered in yesterday's press conference [regarding Ronaldo]; there is no problem between us.

"I have a strong relationship with him, I always have. I have known him since he was young and at Sporting [CP], and then it started to develop in the national team.

"This relationship only developed. We've been friends for many years, things don't affect us.

"I already explained everything was resolved. I said that and I repeat that now. This is something that's finished and resolved.

"How he came in with a lot of will, he set an example as a great captain."

In scoring his hat-trick, Ramos became the first player to net three times on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002.

Similarly, it only took him 17 minutes to do what Ronaldo has never managed: score in a World Cup knockout game.

For most, Ramos starting the quarter-final clash would be a simple decision to make, but Santos intends to keep people guessing.

"Obviously I have my ways to observes things, I always have," he continued. "The players we have in this position obviously have many different characteristics.

"Andre [Silva] plays more advanced, Cristiano is more fixed, he plays in a determined area. Goncalo is dynamic.

"That's what he ended up showing us, but it was nothing new because he came on in two other games.

"I have three players I fully trust and for each match I will use what I think is the right strategy, as I have always done in my career."

Tuesday's success was Portugal's biggest ever victory in the knockout rounds of the World Cup, with it the first time they have scored six beyond the group stage.

It was a truly rampant performance, though Santos was particularly pleased that his team did not get carried away with the euphoria.

"It's exactly what I said [to the players]; when we are euphoric, I think we can go beyond what we should do in a match.

"We can end up having a bit too much fun, to use that expression, and football is not fun. Yes, you have to play, have fun in the field, but too much fun is not appropriate.

"In this aspect, in terms of how serious they were, they were fantastic."

Portugal will face Morocco in their quarter-final at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo denied on Tuesday that he has agreed to join Saudi club Al Nassr after Portugal's World Cup adventure.

The striker became a free agent after being released from his Manchester United contract last month and reports have claimed Ronaldo has agreed an extraordinarily lucrative deal to play in Saudi Arabia.

Suggestions of a bumper contract offer from the Saudi Pro League club emerged last week, with Ronaldo said to be in line to earn well over £100million a year.

However, the 37-year-old says the reports of him signing a deal with Al Nassr are wrong.

Speaking after coming off the bench in Portugal's 6-1 win over Switzerland at the World Cup, a rare substitute appearance for his country, Ronaldo was asked about the move.

"No, it's not true," he told reporters.

Ronaldo was allowed to leave United after a television interview with Piers Morgan saw him criticise the club's owners and signal his lack of respect for manager Erik ten Hag.

He said he felt "betrayed" by the club, alleging there were efforts being made to force him out, with his second stint at United ending in a messy break-up less than 18 months after his arrival from Juventus.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner may struggle to find a top-tier club in Europe, given his relative decline in form in recent times, compared to his peak years at Real Madrid, and the huge salary he is expected to be seeking.

The money may be no object in Saudi Arabia, but it remains unclear whether Ronaldo does not fancy that switch, or whether the deal is simply not over the line yet.

Ronaldo also sent his best wishes to Pele, who is being treated in a Sao Paulo hospital.

A report in Brazil at the weekend claimed the three-time World Cup winner had entered palliative care following a cancer battle. That has not been confirmed by the hospital, family, or Pele himself.

There have been a host of fond messages sent to the 82-year-old since concerns were raised about his health, and Ronaldo joined in. According to Record, Ronaldo said: "Get better, get better Pele. Our king has to get better. That's all we want."

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