Ronaldo gets his groove back

The striker marked his return with a terrific performance against the Republic of Ireland.

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG - Cristiano Ronaldo marked his return with a terrific performance when he featured in Portugal's last 2014 FIFA World Cup preparation match against the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday.

Ronaldo had a hand in a goal and hit a post as Portugal beat Ireland 5-1.

The Real Madrid striker, who missed his country's previous two warm-up games because of thigh and knee injuries, was not at his brilliant best for long periods of a one-sided friendly in the United States.

But coach Paulo Bento will just be relieved to see his captain back after an injury layoff that had sparked fears that Ronaldo might not be fit for Brazil.

Ronaldo was substituted on 65 minutes, but it appeared to have been a planned change and there was no indication that he was suffering any ill effects from his injury problems. He was replaced by Real team-mate Pepe, another whose World Cup preparations have been badly hindered by injury.

Portugal, who were to fly to Brazil immediately after the match, start their World Cup assault against Germany on 16 June in Group G, the so-called "Group of Death," which also includes the USA and Ghana.