Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov defended his team after they allowed Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo to net the only goal in Moscow on Wednesday, and dent the hosts’ chances of reaching the Confederations Cup semi-finals.
Ronaldo leapt high to plant an eighth-minute header past Igor Akinfeev and win it for the European champions, who, along with Mexico, are now in pole position to make the last four from Group A.
Cherchesov was asked afterwards how his defenders had allowed the Real Madrid superstar to escape so easily, to which he replied. “We lost him but it’s not just us, look at how many Ballons d’Or he has!
“We let them cross it into the box and then finish it.”
Cherchesov also denied suggestions his team froze in front of a near sell-out crowd at the Spartak Stadium, a second-half rally almost yielding a point after the hosts were outclassed in the opening 45 minutes.
“We were certainly not nervous,” he said.
“The game did not go according to our wishes but we changed things during the break. We kept losing the ball in the first half and did not launch any attacks.
“In the second half we changed things round a bit and we had several good chances but unfortunately they did not produce any goals.”
Russia are third in their pool, and realistically will have to beat Mexico in Kazan on Saturday to progress.
“I don’t think there’s anything better than to rely on yourself,” Cherchesov said.
“We have a clear understanding of what needs to be done. The next game is only three days away and we need to know who is ready.
“Sometimes little ailments come out after the second or third match but I don’t think we have any injuries.”