The Real Madrid star has been struggling with tendonitis in his knee following last month’s Champions League final, but looked ready for Portugal’s opening World Cup game against Germany in the win over Ireland in New Jersey.
And Paulo Bento’s side doubled their advantage soon after, when Fabio Coentrao’s driven cross deflected off Richard Keogh and looped up and over David Forde in the Ireland goal. The strike went down as an own goal.
Ronaldo looked slightly tentative, as he played his first match back, but that didn’t stop him smashing a free-kick off the Irish woodwork.
Portugal found the net for a third time after 37 minutes, with Almeida grabbing his second by scrambling home a rebound from a Ronaldo header.
Ireland started the second half better and reduced the deficit through James McClean, who cut inside onto his right foot from a quick free-kick and curled an effort into the bottom corner.
And Portugal completed the scoring just minutes before full-time, with Coentrao finally netting the goal his performance deserved, breaking from the back to poke under the body of Forde.
4’ OPENER - Well that didn't take long. Ward gives the ball away, allowing Varela to sprint down the right channel. He puts a cross into the box, where Almeida heads home.
14’ GREAT SAVE - What a save by Forde! The rebound from Ronaldo's shot is recycled by Varela, who plays it back to Meireles on the edge of the box. He smashes an effort towards goal but Forde puts out a hand to save! Magnificent!
19’ WOODWORK - Wooooft! Ronaldo lines up the free-kick in his trademark style and smashes a shot towards goal. But despite getting it up and over the Ireland wall the ball rebounds off the near post of Forde's goal.
21’ GOAL - Well that's unfortunate for Ireland. Ronaldo and Coentrao link up down the left side, with the full-back fizzing a cross into the box. But it takes a wicked deflection off Keogh and loops over the keeper into the net.
37’ GOAL - This is quickly becoming a rout. Varela puts the ball in the box for Ronaldo to attack, whose header is saved by Forde. But Almeida sticks in the rebound.
53’ CONSOLATION - Portugal switch off from the free-kick 25 yards out, with the short pass played to McClean, who cuts inside and finishes into the net.
61’ COUNTER - From an Irish attack Portugal come surging forward on the break, with Ronaldo threading an excellent pass through to Varela. But his first touch lets him down and Forde comes off his line to gather.
80’ GOAL – And there's the fourth of the night for Portugal. Nani swings a fantastic cross to the back post, where Vieirinha is unmarked. His first shot is saved but he pokes home the rebound.
86’ GOAL - Coentrao gets the goal his performance deserves, breaking forward from the back to latch onto Nani's pass and finish calmly past Forde.
90’ DISALLOWED - That would have been an outrageous goal. Portugal sliced their way through Ireland with a series of pinpoint passes before Nani found the net with a clever backheel flick. But the flag is up for offside.
Cristiano Ronaldo has now made the second-highest number of appearances for Portugal, collecting his 111th cap tonight.
Ronaldo has now scored 49 goals for the Portuguese national team.
Will Ronaldo be fully fit for the game against Germany? It seemed something of a risk by Portugal to play someone so valuable to them so close to the World Cup. But now that Ronaldo has an hour of play under his belt as he continues his recovery from injury, things are looking brighter for Portugal. The signs were good and one would guess he will start against Germany on Monday.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Fabio Coentrao (Portugal): The Real Madrid full-back was tireless, playing a part in many attacking moves as he surged up and down the left side. His goal demonstrated just how dangerous he can be as an attacker, sprinting from well inside his own half to get on the end of a pass and finish into the net. An excellent pre-World Cup display.
Republic of Ireland: Forde 6, Kelly 4, Keogh 4, Ward 4, Pearce 5, Hendrick 5, Meyler 6, McGeady 7, Hoolahan 5, Walters 4, McClean 6. Subs: Keane 5, Long 5, Quinn 4, Pilkington 4, Cox 4, Doyle 5.
Portugal: Patricio 5, Coentrao 9, Costa 5, Neto 6, Amorim 6, Moutinho 6, Carvalho 7, Meireles 6, Ronaldo 7, Varela 7, Almeida 8. Sub: Postiga 5, Veloso 4, Vieirinha 6, Almeida 5, Pepe 6, Nani 7.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Hugo Almeida
- David Forde
- Republic of Ireland
- Fabio Coentrao
- Silvestre Varela