Portugal coach Santos lauds teenage midfielder Sanches

Portugal coach Santos lauds teenage midfielder Sanches

Marseille, July 1 (IANS) Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has heaped praise on promising young midfielder Renato Sanches after the 18-year-old scored the team’s equaliser and later netted a successful penalty to steer his side to the European football championship semi-finals, beating Poland here.

Skipper Cristiano Ronaldo scored Portugal’s first penalty of the shoot-out, which they won 5-3, after the sides were tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes of open play on Thursday.

In May 2016, Sanches signed a five-year contract with German giants Bayern Munich for 35 million euros (around $38.8 million) from Benfica. And in Euro quarter-final clash against Poland, the midfielder showed why the reigning Bundesliga champions paid him heavy.

“Renato played a great game, he still has a lot to offer, he’s still growing. The Renato Sanches you saw today is not the finished article, he will be better in the future,” Santos was quoted as saying by goal.com after the win.

“I said the same thing about Ricardo Carvalho when he was 18. Renato is still growing, he’ll have to take all his qualities, put it all on the pitch and it’s my job to help him. He’s an amazing player, when he gets older he’ll come into his own.”

Despite not scoring, the much-admired captain Ronaldo was applauded by the coach for his exemplary performance.

“I don’t talk about Individuals but Pepe and Cristiano played an amazing game. I think people undervalue them. People focus on CR — he has to score goals, goals, goals, but he has been playing amazing, he’s an amazing captain,” he said.

“Pepe was immense. The first few minutes didn’t go our way; it was an experience for our players as they have reached this stage for the first time. Some of their heads are up in the clouds as they are dreaming about what’s happened,” Santos concluded.

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