Cristiano Ronaldo Talks Renato Sanches and More After Portugal Beat Poland

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2016

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, congratulates Renato Sanches who scored their first goal during the Euro 2016 quarterfinal soccer match between Poland and Portugal, at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, France, Thursday, June 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo has said the team's results are more important than his own displays after he disappointed in Thursday's penalty-shootout win over Poland in their Euro 2016 quarter-final, where Renato Sanches was the star man. 

The Real Madrid superstar has failed to shine consistently for the national team and missed a raft of chances in the 1-1 draw after extra time in Marseille, but he told reporters his individual success doesn't matter to Portugal's European Championship chances:

My own performance is not important. What counts is the team, and we did a fantastic job.

I worked hard for the team, although I did not manage to score. Today it was Renato [Sanches], I am delighted for him, he is doing well and now has his first goal at the Euros. The objective was to go through. We are in the semis and go on from here.

Portugal were pinned back by Robert Lewandowski's early strike before Sanches saw a deflected shot draw his side level, and the two teams rode through extra time without any more goals before heading for spot-kicks. 

Ronaldo and Sanches were the first two players to score from 12 yards, and Portugal will now face either Wales or Belgium in the semi-finals on Wednesday, with the Real Madrid man commenting on both as tough opponents: 

Wales are the surprise of the Euros. They are having an excellent tournament. Belgium are very strong too, they have a very dangerous team.

Maybe no one gave us a chance, but we are already in the semifinals. It was a very important victory, the team hit well, fought hard. We are in the semifinals, from now everything is possible. It is a dream to win the Euros, as I have won many club trophies but nothing with Portugal.

Sanches has emerged as the poster child of Portuguese football's next generation, having exploded on to the stage at Benfica near the start of the 2015-16 campaign, his first in the club's senior team.

The 18-year-old has now made nine appearances for the national team, and it was confirmed by Sky Sports' Jefferson Lake in May that he'd be joining Bayern Munich, who were happy to see the youngster score against Poland:

Ronaldo was previously panned on Twitter for his "anonymous" round-of-16 performance against Croatia, per the Mirror's Jim Daly, and Thursday's outing didn't show much sign of improvement.

Meanwhile, midfielder Sanches is in the limelight on Europe's biggest stage, but he assured reporters after Thursday's win his evolution is by no means down to fortune alone:

Ronaldo was widely expected to be Portugal's key man at Euro 2016 after ending the 2015-16 campaign with 51 goals in 48 games across all competitions for Real Madrid.

It may not matter which individuals play best as long as the results continue to come for manager Fernando Santos' side.