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Real escape with hope of progress

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Portugal "optimistic" over Ronaldo recovery

Portugal are "optimistic" that captain and all-round inspiration Cristiano Ronaldo will be fit for their crucial World Cup qualifier against Hungary on Saturday.

An ankle injury sustained in a Champions League victory over Marseille meant that Ronaldo missed Real Madrid's game against Sevilla at the weekend and, without a forward who boasts nine goals in seven games, Manuel Pellegrini's side suffered their first defeat of the season.

Portugal will now be praying that Ronaldo is available as they aim to keep alive their chances of qualifying for the World Cup finals. Carlos Queiroz's side are currently third in Group One, five points behind leaders Denmark and two behind Sweden with two games remaining.

Saturday's opponents Hungary are also level on points with Portugal and team physio Henrique Jones remains hopeful that Ronaldo will be fit for the game in Lisbon.

"We are optimistic with his sprain,"Jones told As. "We believe he will be fit for Saturday, but on Wednesday or Thursday he will undergo an ultrasound to gauge his progress."

With two games remaining, Portugal have little hope of catching Denmark in top spot so a win for the Danes over Sweden on Saturday could be advantageous for Queiroz as Portugal could then move into second place with a win over Hungary.

In the final round of matches next week, Portugal are home to Malta and Sweden host Albania.

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