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Ronaldo Returns As Portugal Beat Republic

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Cristiano Ronaldo made a successful return from injury as he helped Portugal warm up for the World Cup with a big win over the Republic of Ireland.

Ronaldo, 29, had missed Portugal's previous two friendlies with knee and thigh problems, but played for 66 minutes in New Jersey.

Coach Paulo Bento said: 'It was important that he played and we would not hide it. It's good he is back.'

Portugal open their Group G campaign against Germany on Monday.

Ronaldo did not score as Portugal eased to victory, but set up one of striker Hugo Almeida's two goals and hit the post with a first-half free-kick.

'He had a good match alongside what we did collectively,' added Bento.

'Considering he has been without competitive football for a few weeks, I think he did well.'

Almeida headed Portugal in front from a Silvestre Varela cross after only two minutes, and it was 2-0 when Richard Keogh deflected a Fabio Coentrao cross into his own net.

Ronaldo's header was then saved by David Forde for Almeida to follow up and score before James McClean pulled one back for Martin O'Neill's side with his first senior goal for the Republic seven minutes before the break.

But Manchester United winger Nani came off the bench to set up further goals in the second half for Vieirinha and Coentrao as the Irish finished their summer programme on a low note.

'It was as tough a game as we expected it to be,' said O'Neill.

'But it was also a game that I wanted us to participate in because this it is what it is about - playing one of the best teams in the world heading to the World Cup.'

The Republic manager felt his team started 'nervously' and said that two of Portugal's goals had come from his side needlessly gifting away possession.

'Those are the things that over the course of the European championships you have to try and cut out.

'I feel it is not disheartening in the sense that it was 3-1 and if we shut up shop, it is 3-1 and it doesn't seem so bad.

'I am not too bothered. I have done this before at club level, trying to chase games and stay as positive as possible.'