Soccer-Santos pleased with bench after Portugal leave it late against Hungary


Soccer Football - Copa Libertadores - Group C - Santos v Boca Juniors - Estadio Vila Belmiro , Santos, Brazil - May 11, 2021 Santos coach Fernando Diniz Pool via REUTERS/Guilherme Dionizio

(Reuters) - Portugal coach Fernando Santos said a tactical tweak and timely substitutions had helped the defending European champions unlock Group F opponents Hungary's defence in Tuesday's 3-0 victory, but he added that they had to endure plenty of anxious moments.

Hungary soaked up the pressure from Portugal in front of a boisterous crowd of 67,000 in Budapest and looked set to grab a point before Raphael Guerreiro broke the deadlock in the 84th minute and Cristiano Ronaldo netted a late double.

With the clock ticking away, Santos brought on Rafa Silva who won the penalty that Ronaldo dispatched, while the energy of fellow substitutes Joao Moutinho, Andre Silva as well as Renato Sanches also made a difference late on.

"In the second half... we were a bit anxious as the clock was ticking and we wanted to win," Santos told reporters.

"I started subbing in some players to increase the pace of the game. I moved Ronaldo to the left a bit and released Raphael because I thought he wasn't getting close to the goal. He played a great game... so we let him move inside.

"Sometimes you get things right and sometimes you don't get them right, but we always strive for the best. The players that came on did very well, and the ones that went off also did well."

Portugal will face tougher tests against Germany (June 19) and France (June 23), but Santos said his team were ready to build on their performance.

"We're looking ahead to the game against Germany. This is the group stage and we need to progress," Santos added. "It's 'Kill or be killed', like (former Portugal boss) Luiz Felipe Scolari used to say."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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