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Santos extols joys of Portugal winning ugly ahead of final against France
Portugal coach Fernando Santos has vowed to use whatever strategy necessary to guarantee success for his team when it faces France in the Euro 2016 final on Sunday.The 61-year-old has led Portugal to the final of a major competition for the first time since 2004.
The team’s stolid style has attracted criticism despite the fact that it boasts the extravagant talents of three-time world footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo as well as Nani.
"It doesn’t matter if it’s spectacular or not," said Santos after the 2-0 semi-final win over Wales at the Stade de Lyon. "We were expecting a difficult match against Wales and it was a tough game. But our qualities helped us win it.”
Midfielder Vieirinha said after the victory that the plan had been to slow down the pace of the game and not allow Wales the opportunity to play rapidly into the space behind the defence.
Santos deployed Adrien Silva and Joao Mario either side of Danilo acting as the central holding midfielder. José Fonte sat back even deeper in defence.
Wales lacked Ramsey
Wales, who missed the midfield guile of the suspended Aaron Ramsey, were stifled and rarely found the chance to cross from the flanks. Striker Gareth Bale tried long distance shots in an attempt to break through.
“Wales caused us many problems as they studied us,” said Santos. "But we had also studied them and it’s like I always said, it’s not that Portugal are playing badly but that our opponents are playing well.
“The most important thing is that we’ve qualified for the final and are doing well which has been our objective over the past few years."
Ronaldo v Griezmann
Portugal advanced to the final thanks to goals from skipper Ronaldo and Nani.
Ronaldo's strike, his third goal at Euro 2016, drew him level with Michel Platini's record of haul of nine goals at European Championship finals.
The 31-year-old Real Madrid striker trails tournament top scorer Antoine Griezmann of France by one goal.