Cristiano Ronaldo News

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ronaldo: I can handle pressure

05/12/2006 16:32, Report by Ben HibbsPAGE: 1 2

Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off against Benfica when United went out of the Champions League last season, but a more mature and confident player will walk out at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

The 21-year-old Reds winger has proven himself to be unfazed by the criticism following the fall-out of England’s World Cup exit at the hands of Portugal.

And under the media glare at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday, Ronaldo confidently fielded questions about everything form his red card last season against Benfica to allegations from Gareth Southgate over the weekend that he dived to win a penalty during the 2-1 win at the Riverside Stadium.

By now he’s used to the attention. And as he proved in United’s 1-0 win at Estadio da Luz earlier this season, he will not let the occasion on Wednesday affect him.

“The game [where I was red carded] is in the past now,” he said. “There is always pressure. But I’m playing well and the team is playing well, so that is all that matters. On Wednesday night it is a match to see which team goes through, I just want to be part of that.”

Asked whether he is bothered by the criticism he so regularly receives, Ronaldo’s answer was a plain and simple “no”.

“People criticise me for anything and everything I do,” he added. “They love to do it. But, since the World Cup, I have concentrated on my football, which is what I love to do.

“I go on the pitch and do what I do best: play football for the team. Whether I am criticised or not, I don’t care. If I suffer a foul I just get up and carry on.”

United need at least a draw against Benfica to go through to the last 16. But Fernando Santos’ side are in good form going into the match, having beaten rivals Sporting Lisbon 2-0 on Friday night.

However, says Ronaldo, the Reds have no reason to be fearful. “Benfica had a very important win, but we are top of the league and playing very well. I am sure that with both teams performing so well it can only be a good match for the supporters to see.”


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