ronaldo is on the ball

GENEVA - Any doubts about where Cristiano Ronaldo's focus would be at the start of Euro 2008 were dispelled in Portugal's 2-0 win over Turkey in their Group A opener.

GENEVA - Any doubts about where Cristiano Ronaldo's focus would be at the start of Euro 2008 were dispelled in Portugal's 2-0 win over Turkey in their Group A opener.

Ronaldo did not score but came close at least twice and played a major role in Portugal's fine attacking performance on Saturday that underlined their status among the tournament favourites.

"Playing like that we can win the European [Championship]. We scored twice, had two balls on the posts and one on the bar," Ronaldo told reporters.

Ronaldo had two chances in the first half - a close-range effort that was blocked and a free kick which Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel just managed to turn onto the post. In the second half his low shot from the left was well saved.

Widely tipped to be the player of the tournament, Ronaldo came to Switzerland in the middle of a tug-of-war between his club Manchester United and Real Madrid for his future services and doubts about his concentration on the job at hand.

But in Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari he has a no-nonsense manager who becomes the team's twelfth player, so influential is he from the touchline.

"I asked Nuno Gomes to give Ronaldo the captain's armband so he'd feel more motivated and that's exactly what happened," Scolari told the post-match news conference of the central striker's replacement by Nani in the 69th minute.

Portugal could have been forgiven at that stage for flagging after an hour's effort to break down the resilient Turkish team and finally taking the lead through central defender Pepe.

Instead, Ronaldo, moving further forward, played a captain's game for the final 20 minutes by leading from the front in Nuno Gomes' position.

"The idea was to give him a boost, increase his will so he could overcome his tiredness, make another dribble, make another pass, [maybe] make another goal," said Scolari, who praised the physical fitness and commitment of his team.

"I've been captain many times. [At a major tournament] the responsibility is the same.

"It's always nice to play with the armband," Ronaldo said. - Reuters

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