LISBON - A revitalised Portugal want
Cristiano Ronaldo to maintain his prolific scoring run against
visiting Norway on Saturday to send his team top of their Euro
2012 qualifying group after a dismal start to the campaign.
Coach Paulo Bento has engineered a remarkable turnaround,
improving the side's morale after replacing the sacked Carlos
Queiroz in September.
He took charge after an embarrassing 4-4 home draw with
Malta and a 1-0 defeat in Norway but subsequent wins over
Denmark and Iceland have pushed Portugal, who are equal on goal
difference with the Group H leaders, within three points of
"It is a key opportunity to go first in the group," Bento
told a news conference. "We are under pressure but it is a much
better kind of pressure than what we had back in October."
Ronaldo has been on fire at Real Madrid this season, netting
40 goals to set a La Liga record, and the Portugal captain and
the world's most expensive player said he had one last job to do
before going on holiday.
"The season is not over yet. I have an important game to
play for Portugal and I want to win it," he said.
The Norwegians will miss holding midfielder Alexander Tettey
"He (Ronaldo) is world class, we must allow him very little
space and always have to be on top of him," Norway coach Egil
Fluid displays in a 4-0 thumping of Spain and a narrow
defeat by Argentina in recent friendlies showed Portugal are
hardly a one-man show, with Nani, Raul Meireles and Joao
Moutinho carrying good club form to the international stage.
Norway, who have not reached the finals of a major
competition since Euro 2000, have 10 points in the group, three
more than Portugal and Denmark.
Portugal: Eduardo; Joao Pereira, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe,
Fabio Coentrao; Carlos Martins, Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho;
Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Nani.
Norway: Rune Jarstein; John Arne Riise, Brede Hangeland,
Kjetil Waehler, Espen Ruud; Erik Huseklepp, Morten Gamst
Pedersen, Christian Grindheim, Bjorn Helge Riise; Mohammed
Abdellaoue, John Carew.
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