Jose Mourinho praises ‘special’ Cristiano Ronaldo after heroic display against Spain

SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 15: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal looks on with his Man of the Match award after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Portugal and Spain at Fisht Stadium on June 15, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Jose Mourinho was full of praise for Cristiano Ronaldo after his compatriot bagged a hat-trick to make history for Portugal in their 3-3 draw with Spain on Friday night.

The European champions appeared to be heading for defeat in Sochi until Ronaldo stepped up to fire a stunning free-kick past David de Gea late on, his first goal from a set-piece in 45 attempts at major tournaments.

Ronaldo also became just the fourth player to score in four different World Cup tournaments, and Mourinho could not hide his admiration afterwards.

He told Russia Today: ‘He’s got what I used to call the feeling of the game, the specific intelligence of playing football. ‘He knows that the team is in trouble, he knows the team is not creating, he’s frustrated on the pitch, nobody could see Portugal scoring and he knows one possibility of scoring is set plays.

‘That position is a position I saw him train free-kicks for hours after training, asking one of my assistants to put the wall for him, to stay with him, to give him balls. ‘He was looking for that, he gave his body to Pique, looked for contract. He’s clever, in control of every detail. He gets the free kick.

‘His record lately is not the best for the number of free-kicks he takes for club and national team, not scoring as much as he used to for Manchester United and the first years at Real. ‘But this one is critical and crucial. It’s what can affect the team, the confidence, the next match, the rivalry, what it means for Portuguese people.

‘And he has this little touch, this little extra feeling, and the goal is fantastic. The wall is correct, the goalkeeper is correct, but the flight of the ball is impossible to save. Top corner. ‘He knew it was the last chance and that’s what I really admire. There are players for some matches, there are players for every matches and there are players for special matches.’

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