Ronaldo shines on return as Portugal rout Ireland
Get ready Brazil - Cristiano Ronaldo's back.
Even though he didn't score, the Portuguese flyer and reigning World Player of the Year played a starring role on his comeback from a tendonitis problem as the Selecao thrashed Ireland 5-1 in New Jersey. US.
Hugo Almeida opened the scoring for Portugal with a thumping header after just two minutes when he got on the end of Silvestre Varela's cross from the right.
Ronaldo then struck one of his trademark free-kick rockets in the 19th minute only to be denied by the post before getting involved in Portugal's second goal a minute later with an exquisite no-look pass.
The pass released his Real Madrid teammate Fabio Coentrao, whose cross/shot was then deflected over goalkeeper David Forde by defender Richard Keogh. So much for the fabled luck of the Irish...
It was 3-0 on 37 minutes after Varela's cross from the right found you-know-who.
Ronaldo rose the highest to meet the ball and force a save from Forde, only for the rebound to be swept home by Almeida.
The Irish pulled one back in the 52nd minute through James McClean off a short free-kick.
Even though Ronaldo was substituted in the 65th minute, his replacement Luis Nani continued his former Manchester United teammate's work by tormenting the Irish.
He first set up Vierinha, who scored off the rebound after his initial header was saved, on 77 minutes with a cross from the left before playing a delightful final ball for Coentrao to score six minutes later.
Nani was unfortunate not to be on the scoresheet himself when he started and finished an intricate passing move in the 87th minute, only for the referee to chalk it off for offside.
All in all, a fantastic result for Portugal as they head to Brazil full of confidence boosted by the return to fitness of their captain and talisman Ronaldo.
Paulo Bento's side will face Germany in their Group G opening match on June 16.