Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal were in a merciless mood Monday as they fired seven goals past hapless North Korea in the second biggest victory in World Cup history.
REUTERS - Portugal enjoyed their biggest ever World Cup victory when they overwhelmed North Korea 7-0 in Group G on Monday to end the Asian side's hopes.
Ronaldo got on the scoresheet at last as the Portuguese put themselves in prime position to accompany Brazil into the second round after a scintillating display of attacking football.
Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz had said he would approach the game in three stages -- win, score goals and then look at the standings -- and his players followed the plan to the letter.
Goals by Raul Meireles in the first half, Simao Sabrosa, Hugo Almeida and Tiago in a seven-minute blitz early in the second, and further strikes by substitute Liedson, Ronaldo and Tiago again secured the win that took them on to four points.
They are now two points behind already-qualified Brazil, who Portugal meet in their final game, but more importantly have boosted their goal difference so much that Ivory Coast need to score a hatful in their final game against the Koreans.
The Ivorians, beaten 3-1 by Brazil on Sunday, have one point and a draw for Portugal in their final game would in any case guarantee that Queiroz's side progress to the last 16.
North Korea had earned widespread praise for their battling defensive effort against Brazil but, contrary to most predictions, they were far more positive on Monday.
Although Portugal should have gone ahead after seven minutes when goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk failed hopelessly to claim a Simao corner and Ricardo Carvalho thumped his header against a post, it was anything but one-way traffic.
Conditions were made treacherous by relentless rain and with defenders slipping and the ball skidding, both sides unleashed shots from long range at every opportunity.
Cha Jong-hyok fizzed one just wide while a parried Hong Yong-jo effort fell to Pak Nam-Chol but he headed over.
After 25 minutes of their famous 1966 quarter-final North Korea led 3-0 before eventually losing 5-3.
This time, though, it was Portugal who struck first as Tiago, drafted in for the injured Deco, rolled a beautifully weighted ball into the path of Meireles who struck it hard and low beyond Ri in the 29th minute.
That took the edge off Korea and it was one-way traffic after that with the match settled by a trio of well-made goals.
Meireles and Almeida combined well to set up Simao to tuck in the first of them after 53 minutes, Fabio Coentrao crossed for Almeida to head the next after 56 and Ronaldo put another on a plate for Tiago on the hour.
Ronaldo, desperate to end his 16-month goal drought, hit the bar after 70 minutes before Liedson smashed in the fifth 10 minutes from time. Ronaldo did not have to wait long for his goal, though, although he had a bit of luck when it came.
In the 87th minute he broke clear but the ball bounced into the air off Ri, rolled over Ronaldo's head and fell nicely into his path with the goal at his mercy. He could not miss.
Two minutes later Tiago grabbed his second goal, heading home a cross from Miguel Veloso, to finish off the rout.
Date created : 2010-06-21