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Jun 22, 2014

Bento: Ronaldo fitness not an issue

Portugal's Silvestre Varela scored a late goal to earn a 2-2 draw with the United States.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento dismissed questions that Cristiano Ronaldo struggled with his fitness, which contributed to the team's 2-2 World Cup Group G draw vs. the United States on Sunday.

United StatesUnited States
PortugalPortugal
2
2
ESPN, ESPN3 FT
Match 30
Game Details

"He was fit," Paulo Bento said of Ronaldo. "He didn't seem to have a problem. What happened during the game has to do with more than just one player. It was more of a matter of the whole team, not just individual players. We are depending on third parties now, on other teams, and there is a big goal difference to make up. This is our only hope."

Ronaldo set up Varela for a late equalizer on a hot and humid night in the jungle Sunday to give the Portugal a 2-2 draw with the United States and hope for a spot in the second round of the World Cup.

Group G scenarios

Ronaldo, who has been playing despite a left knee injury, sent in a cross in the fifth minute of stoppage time and Varela scored with a diving header in the last seconds of the match.

Nani had scored first for Portugal, shooting past a sprawling Tim Howard in the fifth minute, but the Americans responded in the second half as Portugal seemed to wilt in the stifling heat.

"The chance still exists, so we will demand more of our team and maintain a professional stance with hard work in mind," Bento said. "In terms of opportunities, we could have had more goals.

"In the first half, we had more efficiency and could have dealt with the game there. We never lost control of the match. We didn't dominate the whole time and both teams had a more defensive strategy. We tried to change our dynamics after halftime and things changed a bit.

"It is an acceptable result, so to speak, but we know our position is quite difficult now," Bento said. "That kind of effort and stress you put your players through during the Germany game was different than today. Today it was 11 vs. 11. The conditions today forced us to adopt a more defensive strategy. We didn't have to take everything to the attack. If there's anything that should be highlighted, it is the mental aspect and about reacting. The result is fair, but it leaves us in a very delicate situation."

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