Portugal's William Carvalho, left, and Mexico's Raul Jimenez fight for the ball during the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Portugal and Mexico, at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Sunday, June 18, 2017.
European Champions Portugal and Gold Cup kings Mexico played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in their opening Confederations Cup Group A match in the Russian city of Kazan.
Much of the pre-match talk has centred on Portugal star Ronaldo, whose preparations for the finals have been overshadowed by a legal complaint alleging tax fraud in Spain and a reported desire to quit Real Madrid. A report by a Portuguese newspaper two days before Sunday's game said that the Madrid forward had made the "irreversible" decision to leave the Spanish club because he was upset with the allegations. "But we're a great side too, and I'm sure we can stop him", striker Raul Jimenez, a Portuguese league and cup double victor with Benfica, told FIFA.com. "The Portuguese people love football and, after seeing the team prevail in Europe past year, they are waiting for the next great achievement".
Portugal, which made it to the tournament after beating host France in the Euro 2016 final, is in Group A along with Russia, New Zealand and Mexico.
The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup is about to go higher. It is played by the continental champions plus the host nation and the World Cup victor.
"Ronaldo is motivated", young Portugal forward Andre Silva said Friday. "He is focused on what needs to be done here, and without a doubt he will have a great tournament".
"It's not the result we wanted, we had the game nearly won", said Ronaldo, who was voted the man of the match.
In his next game, Silva scored a hat-trick against the Faroe Islands, when Ronaldo added one goal in another 6-0 victory.
A good performance at the Confederations Cup will virtually secure him a fifth world player of the year award, equaling Lionel Messi.
Mexico's last competitive loss came nine games and exactly one year ago when Chile hammered them 7-0 in the Centenary Copa America.
"It's the new rule, and if it brings benefits to football, that's fine", Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.
Mexico has won five of its last six matches, with a 2-1 home loss to Croatia in a friendly in May.
Mexico, despite boasting a better Confederations Cup track record than Portugal, is being considered as the underdog going into Sunday's match. The Mexicans won the title in 1999.
"I stand by Ronaldo's character and integrity, both as a man and as an athlete", said Santos, who coached Ronaldo when the player was a teenager in Portugal before leaving to play for Manchester United.
A regular of Portugal's youth teams, Silva began attracting headlines when he joined Porto's senior squad and played well from the start, finishing the season with 21 goals. "It was a fair result for how the teams played".