Portugal have received a huge boost ahead of their first World Cup match against Germany after Cristiano Ronaldo returned from his knee injury and thigh problems.
Despite not being at his best, the Real Madrid superstar - whose injury kept him out of his side's previous two warm-up games against Greece and Mexico - returned to manager Paolo Bento's starting line-up and helped his team in their emphatic 5-1 victory over Republic of Ireland on Tuesday – their final friendly before heading to Brazil.
The recent tendinosis diagnosis did not prevent the Fifa Ballon d'Or winner from putting in a good performance. The most important thing for fans was to see if Cristiano had fully recovered from his physical problems. And it took a little more than a minute to dispel any lingering doubts about his fitness ghosting past two opponents for his first shot on goal. The 29-year-old made an assist for the second goal with a back-heel pass and four attempts on goal in the match.
The Portuguese ace had not played since Real's Champions League triumph against city rivals Atletico Madrid last month in Lisbon, where Ronaldo scored the fourth goal from the penalty spot. Ronaldo also had to deal with minor injuries towards the end of Real's campaign before playing the Lisbon final.
The Portugal manager Bento was happy to have his talismanic forward back from injury and he said after the clash: "It was important that he played and we would not hide it. A player like Ronaldo is important for any team, and that's the case for us. It's good that he is back.
"I think he had a good match alongside what we did collectively. Considering he has been without competitive football for a few weeks, I think he did well."
The Portuguese open their World Cup campaign on Monday against Germany at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador before facing United States and Ghana on 22 and 26 June respectively.