CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo finally scored.
Portugal put on the most dominant performance of the World Cup on Monday, knocking in a flurry of second-half goals and routing North Korea 7-0, a win that puts Portugal on the brink of advancing to the round of 16 and means the Koreans won't make it out of group play.
"It was a great day for Portugal and Portuguese football," coach Carlos Queiroz said
"The players are really happy with the way they played, the attitude for the game, the beautiful football, the beautiful goals."
Those goals came in bunches.
Simao, Almeida and Tiago all scored early in the second half, after Meireles' 29th-minute goal gave Portugal the lead.
Liedson, substituting for Almeida started another run with a goal in the 81st.
Ronaldo ended his goalless streak the 87th minute, and Tiago added his second goal two minutes later.
One of the world's best and most highly paid players, Ronaldo had not scored for his nation in a non-friendly match since the 2008 European Championship.
"To score seven goals in a World Cup is not easy," said Ronaldo, who gave his man-of-the-match award to Tiago. "My teammates played very well."
The win moves Portugal into second place in Group G with four points, two behind Brazil. The Ivory Coast has one point, and North Korea can't advance in the tournament after two straight losses.
"This is a great result for us," Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz said. "We have to continue now."
North Korean state television aired live coverage of the Portugal match, in what was believed to be a first for a national team soccer game taking place abroad.
Talk about bad timing.
North Korea had early chances, but trouble began when Meireles latched on to a clever pass by Tiago and gave Portugal its first goal of the tournament. The score seemed to deflate the Koreans, while the Portuguese finally began to show some of the Latin flair that has made them an outside favorite to win their first championship.
"Tactically speaking, we fell apart and we couldn't block their attacks," North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun said. "It was my fault for not playing the right strategy and that is why we conceded a lot of goals."
Meireles assisted on Simao's goal in the 53rd minute, which went through the legs of North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk. Almeida scored three minutes later from a powerful header, and Tiago knocked home a pass from Ronaldo in the 60th.
Liedson scored off a defensive error, before Ronaldo ended a 16-month goal drought for his country with a simple finish after the ball fell to him.
"It was important to score goals today," Tiago said.
Played in a steady downpour, the wet field at Green Point Stadium caused errant passes as many players lost their footing.
North Korea named the same lineup as the one that impressed in a 2-1 loss to Brazil, while Queiroz made four changes from the team that was held to 0-0 draw by Ivory Coast.
Tiago replaced the injured Deco in midfield, with Almeida and Simao joining Ronaldo up front. Miguel Brito was chosen ahead of Paulo Ferreira at right back.
The win gives Portugal a massive goal advantage if it ends up tied with Ivory Coast on points after the last match Friday. Portugal plays Brazil, which has already qualified for the second round, while Ivory Coast plays North Korea.