Cristiano Ronaldo remains in the spotlight amid reports of his desire to leave Real Madrid, but he's continuing to make headlines for his on-field exploits, too.
Ronaldo, who notched an assist in Portugal's Confederations Cup-opening draw against Mexico, scored the lone goal in the eighth minute of a 1-0 win over host Russia on Wednesday, provisionally taking Portugal to the top of Group A.
Russia was coming off a win over New Zealand, but the degree of difficulty was raised significantly in its second match in taking on Ronaldo and the reigning European champion.
The only tally came when Ronaldo turned in a clinical header after Raphael Guerreiro found his captain by the far post with a pinpoint cross from the left. The goal was Ronaldo's 74th of his international career–the most among all active players and the national record for Portugal.
Ronaldo had another chance in the 25th minute, lining up a free kick from 25 yards, but while his blast avoided the Russia wall, it landed in the waiting arms of diving goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
Ronaldo tested Akinfeev again from close range in the 32nd minute after Andre Silva's flicked-on header played him through on the right channel, but the goalkeeper made the kick save to keep him from scoring a second.
Russia's best chance in the opening half came in the 41st minute, when forward Fyodor Smolov was found in the box with a cross from the right, but his first touch was poor and redirected the opportunity far wide of the right post.
Akinfeev, who earned his 100th cap on Wednesday, kept Russia within a goal in the 51st minute with a sensational reaction save, denying Andre Silva's point-blank header.
The goalkeeper came up big again with his fourth save, reading a long-range blast from Cedric and parrying away to safety in the 58th minute.
After Russia turned up the pressure in the attacking half, it was nearly caught on the defensive end, where Ronaldo should have given Portugal a 2-0 lead. With Akinfeev out of position, Andre Gomes's short cross picked out an unmarked Ronaldo mere yards from the goal, but the Real Madrid star somehow put his header wide of the mark.
In the 65th minute, Ronaldo had another chance, sparking a counterattack with a lengthy run and the receiving the return pass at the top of the box, but his powerful attempt was wayward and high.
Russia was nearly able to capitalize on a stoppage-time mishap from Rui Patricio, after the Portugal goalkeeper needlessly batted a wayward cross out for a corner. On the ensuing set piece, Spartak Moscow's Georgi Dzhikiya, playing in his home stadium, had a free header, but he failed to put it on target.
Russia, still alive with a chance to advance, closes group play against Mexico on Saturday, while Portugal faces New Zealand in concurrent matches at 11 a.m. ET.