Football

Chile wary of sharpshooter Ronaldo

South Americans must stop in-form forward, who has three Man-of-the-Match awards from three games

SEMI-FINAL
PORTUGAL CHILE

Copa America champions Chile will try to curb Portugal's superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Confederations Cup semi-final, with the star forward in rich form despite the tax storm brewing in Spain.

The 32-year-old Real Madrid forward converted a penalty in Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of New Zealand to claim his 75th international goal.

He has now scored 16 times in his last 10 games for club and country.

Portugal's captain will face tax evasion charges in a Madrid court next month but has dazzled on the pitch in Russia, claiming Man-of-the-Match awards in all three games, netting two goals and providing an assist.

After steering Portugal to the Euro 2016 title in Paris a year ago, Ronaldo will want to claim a second international title in Monday morning's Confederations Cup final in St Petersburg, against Mexico or Germany who meet in the other semi-final on Friday morning.

Ronaldo is closing in on the legendary Ferenc Puskas' European record of 84 international goals, despite the off-field turmoil and constant speculation about his future, having threatened to quit Real.

Chile midfielder Marcelo Diaz, who has often faced Ronaldo with his club Celta Vigo, said yesterday: "We all know he (Ronaldo) is an amazing player, he's very dangerous and can decide a game alone.

"He has had an amazing season in Spain. He's playing here with the same strength, which is why Portugal are in the semi-finals. The main thing is trying to stop him getting the ball and scoring."

Chile, who won the Copa America in both 2015 and 2016, will present Portugal with their toughest test yet in Russia, but the South Americans have not beaten Portugal in three attempts, with two defeats and a draw.

Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is hoping that, against Portugal, his team won't pay the price for their high-octane style of football.

He said: "Our style of play is very demanding, the players have to put in a great effort.

"Our opponents know this and they often have a different way of playing (against us), they tend not to take the initiative.

Chile are not an easy team to analyse. They are not a traditional team. Their strengths are many but, like any team, they have weaknesses. Portugal coach Fernando Santos

"We always want to win back the ball and this needs a lot of effort and sacrifice.

"There's no doubt that this causes wear and tear and, when the games are as close together as they are in this tournament, there is no doubt that the players feel it." - WIRE SERVICES

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