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Santos glad Ronaldo enjoyed winning return to United

19 November 2014, 13:20

Manchester - Portugal manager Fernando Santos insisted Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford had been a success even though the former Manchester United winger was anonymous in his side's 1-0 friendly win over Argentina.

Ronaldo was taken off at half-time to save him for Real Madrid duties and did little in his brief appearance to get the Old Trafford crowd out of their seats as his much-anticipated duel with Argentina's Lionel Messi failed to live up to the pre-match hype.

But Ronaldo, who had only played at Old Trafford once since leaving United in 2009, did at least get a warm welcome from the lower than expected 41,233 crowd and Santos, whose side claimed their first win over Argentina since 1972, said that was a fitting mark of respect for one of the club's all-time greats.

"Yes Cristiano is a legend and played for this club like many other legends," Santos said.

"When I was a child I watched Denis Law and Bobby Charlton and many other famous players who played here. Cristiano is in the same class.

"I'm really pleased he got a good reception. It is a great club."

Santos said Portugal deserved their victory from a lacklustre encounter because they battled until the end, when substitute Raphael Guerreiro headed in Ricardo Quaresma's cross in stoppage-time.

"In the first 25 minutes we didn't play very well, then we got better in the next 20 minutes," Santos said.

"The second half basically there were no opportunities for anyone, but the goals can come in the first or last minute.

"It doesn't matter, we scored and won the match."

Asked about the crowd's disappointment that Messi and Ronaldo were only on show for such a brief period, Argentina boss Gerardo Martino said he was determined not to play his talisman for longer than the first half.

Martino didn't want to overwork Messi after he played and scored in the World Cup finalists' win against Croatia in the first match of their two-game tour of England at West Ham's Upton Park last week.

"Talking about Cristiano I wouldn't have a clue about what Portugal's plans for him were, but for Lionel we wanted to take him off after 45 minutes because he played the full 90 minutes against Croatia," Martino said.

Also read: Scotland boss Strachan salutes 'spooky' England display

Martino was frustrated that Argentina failed to turn their territorial dominance into a match-winning performance.

But he took heart from the way Argentina looked the better team even without Messi in the second half.

"It's a shame we lost because we dominated in every aspect of the game," he added.

"We were solid in defence, created chances going forward and did everything but score. If we could have finished those opportunities everything would have been perfect.

"Even so, I enjoyed the opportunity to play here at this great stadium."



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