MOSCOW (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo headed an early winner as Portugal beat hosts Russia 1-0 in the Confederations Cup on Wednesday to go top of Group A and spoil Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev’s 100th cap.
European champions Portugal took the lead when captain Ronaldo headed a precise cross by Raphael Guerreiro past Akinfeev in the eighth minute and then held on as a re-energised Russia created chances in the second half.
“We have a good, young team with an excellent coach. We weren’t European champions by accident,” Ronaldo, Portugal’s all-time leading scorer, told reporters after taking his international tally to 74 goals.
“Russia are difficult to play against and it’s the first time we’ve beaten Russia here. We deserved to win and the team are to be congratulated.”
Akinfeev had kept his team in the match early in the second half when he tipped a powerful header by Andre Silva round the post.
Russia squandered two scoring chances in stoppage time, with Georgy Dzhikya’s header sailing over the bar while a Fedor Smolov drive floated wide.
“The game doesn’t always go how we want,” Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov told reporters.
“We lost the ball fairly often when leaving the defensive zone in the first half, we weren’t able to attack, let alone to shoot. We managed to change a few things in the second half, and were able to attack.”
The win moved Portugal top of the table with four points after they conceded an equaliser in stoppage time to draw their opening match 2-2 against Mexico.
Portugal’s victory, however, came at a cost as Guerreiro limped off in the second half with what manager Fernando Santos said could be a broken leg.
“That was a bad moment for Portugal,” Santos told reporters. “Let’s see. The exam results will tell us. Let’s hope they’re not as serious as we believe they are at the moment.”
Russia stay on three points while, Mexico (1) take on New Zealand (0) later on Wednesday.
Russia face Mexico on Saturday in their last group game, when Portugal play New Zealand.
Reporting by Moscow newsroom, editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis