Santos defends Portugal's EURO 2016 win

Portugal's victory in EURO 2016 may not have been to everyone's taste but Fernando Santos launched a staunch defence of his side's triumph.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos dismissed the notion that Portugal didn't deserve to win Euro 2016.   -  Getty Images

Fernando Santos has rejected the notion that Portugal is an unworthy European champion due to its lack of wins inside 90 minutes at EURO 2016.

Santos' side drew all three of its round-robin games against Iceland, Austria and Hungary before defeating Croatia in extra-time in the round of 16 and besting Poland via a quarterfinal penalty shootout.

Goals from Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo ensured Wales were dispatched 2-0 in Lyon before a goalless final against hosts France went into an additional period, where substitute Eder was the unlikely hero.

Game-by-game Portugal are already faring better than that at the Confederations Cup, where a 1-0 win over Russia in Moscow moved the side on to four points from two games in Group A.

Speaking ahead of the match against New Zealand in St Petersburg, Santos chuckled his way though a question from a Brazilian journalist asking whether his team were now better to watch before delivering a withering riposte.

"Portugal always played well otherwise we wouldn't be European champions. I understand your questions.

"I see that Portugal only won one game in the 90 minutes in the European Championship but that's not true, nobody can be European champions if you do not win four games.

"The first three in the group stage, maybe not, but from then, if you don't win, you lose and you go out.

"So, Portugal won four games, don't forget that. I think your interpretation doesn't make any sense.

"Games have the possibility of 120 minutes, that's different from a 90-minute game. We are talking about different things.

"It's good to look at the fact that we won four games. I understand your point of view.

"Portugal were so well prepared that we played three extra time periods and always won."

Portugal is a heavy favourite to make it back-to-back victories on Saturday and progress as group winners but Santos was impressed by the efforts of tournament outsiders New Zealand in its battling 2-1 loss to Mexico.

"New Zealand is always a team who plays hard and fights hard, has good quality players who play in the UK. They have an experienced coach," the 62-year-old added.

"On the pitch they show that strength and some quality on the counter-attack and in the transitions.

"They complicated life for Mexico and the result could have been different for Mexico because of the quality of the New Zealand team.

"We have to be on our toes to face New Zealand because they have shown they can create surprises. I hope we're not going to be surprised but we have to be very vigilant against the New Zealanders."

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