Portugal defender Joao Pereira refuted team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo's suggestion they lack quality at the FIFA World Cup.
Paulo Bento's men were on the brink of World Cup elimination when trailing the United States 2-1 on Sunday, before Ronaldo whipped in an inch-perfect cross that was converted by Silvestre Varela to give Portugal life in Brazil.
Portugal remain in a dire position in Group G, requiring a healthy enough victory over Ghana to overhaul either of the USA or Germany on four points - with a draw in the latter's fixture spelling the end of their tournament also.
Ronaldo was quoted as saying Portugal - semi-finalists at Euro 2012 - had "limitations" and said "qualifying for the finals was problematic".
However, Pereira said he could not believe the Real Madrid star would denigrate his own team-mates.
"I don't know if those were exactly his words. I very much doubt that he said Portugal lack in quality," Pereira said.
"Two years ago everyone was saying that this team was full of talent during the Euros. We didn't miss that quality.
"We fought as hard as we could but it didn't happen.
"We started the tournament with a defeat. Yesterday we scored first but then we conceded the equaliser.
"We are not the best team in the world. We are not even in the top three but we have a lot of talent and you can see that in our players and in the clubs where they play."
Pereira defended coach Bento in light of criticism following their stagnant group-stage campaign, which saw them thrashed 4-0 by Germany and seconds away from defeat - and an exit - against the USA.
"We are responsible for that. Us players go onto the pitch. We take the good and the bad decisions on the field. We are the ones to blame," Pereira said.
"It's not over until Thursday as I said. Regardless the result, we will face our responsibility. We will be here no matter if we are qualified for the last 16 or not."
Portugal take on Ghana in Brasilia on Thursday.
|Coach: Paulo Bento|
for João Pereira 61'
for Éder 69'
for Beto 89'
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