CAPE TOWN (AFP) A merciless Portugal tore North Korea to shreds in a 7-0 rout on Monday, putting them within reach of the knockout rounds and eliminating the Asian nation from the World Cup. With Brazil already qualified from Group G, Portugal now have four points to Ivory Coasts one, leaving Didier Drogbas team with only an outside chance of making the round of 16. North Korea have lost both their games and will head home after their last match against the Africans. A Raul Meireles strike put Portugal in front with the Porto midfielder pouncing in the 29th minute. But it wasnt all one-way traffic, with North Korea creating their own chances as they powered forward on the counter-attack. The game changed though with three quick second-half goals from Simao, Hugo Almeida and Tiago that left North Korea shellshocked before substitute Liedson banged in the fifth. Captain Cristiano Ronaldo got the sixth, ending his two-year international goal drought, before Tiago made it seven. Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz made four changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Ivory Coast, with Tiago replacing the injured Deco and Simao, Almeida and Miguel in for Danny, Liedson and Paulo Ferreira. The revamped team started brightly on a slippery pitch after persistent rain. Ronaldo signalled his intentions by unleashing a long-range strike on two minutes that goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk did well to collect. Ricardo Carvalho also had an early chance, rattling the post with a header, as Portugal set about their task with vigour. The opportunities were coming thick and fast as Portugal used wingers Simao on the right and Ronaldo on the left effectively North Korea finally got a shot at goal on 10 minutes with defender Cha Jong-Hyok whipping a 30-yard piledriver just past the upright. As the rain returned, the Koreans were starting to look handy and far more aggressive than when they lost 2-1 to Brazil, surging forward to threaten the Portugal goal. The Cholima were certainly not intimidated and could have taken a shock lead when captain Hong Yong-Jos shot was parried by Eduardo, only for Mun In-Guk to head the rebound over the bar. The Portuguese came out after the break pushing hard for the second goal which inevitably came on 53 minutes with Meireles slicing open the Korean defence with a pass to Athletic Madrids Simao who slotted the ball past Ri. North Korea were in disarray and let their guard down again three minutes later when Fabio Coentrao beat his man on the left and sent a lovely cross to Hugo Almeida who made no mistake with a powerful header. Portugal were rampant and the fourth goal came soon after when Ronaldo picked out Tiago in the box and he clinically side-footed home before Liedson volleyed in the fifth with nine minutes left. Ronaldo made the most of a lucky bobble to get the sixth in the 87th minute before Tiago rubbed salt in the Korean wounds with a late deft header. Sinful to bench Messi against Greece, says Maradona Diego Maradona plans on making seven substitutions to his starting lineup for Argentinas match with Greece, but star Lionel Messi will play Tuesday because benching him would be sinful. Maradona, whose squad is all-but assured a berth in the round of 16, will give his reserves a chance to see some action, but Barcelona striker Messi will be on the field and might even be the captain for La Albiceleste. We wanted to give Lionel a break but he will play, Maradona said. Hes the best player in the world. I think it would be a sin not to give him to the team, to the people, and leave out a player who could decide the match. Messi, who spectacularly set-up three Argentina goals in a victory over South Korea, could wear the Argentine captains armband with regular captain Javier Mascherano of Liverpool set to sit out after an earlier yellow card. Asked if Messi might assume the captains armband the way Maradona himself did in an earlier World Cup, the legend said only, You will know that when the people go on the pitch. Maradona looks forward to seeing Messi net his first World Cup goal. I would really love that Leo does what is supposed to be done during the World Cup, Maradona said. I remember when I scored that first goal we had the match in our hands. Perhaps Messi can have the same experience. Messi has not been solved by rival goalkeepers, Maradona contends, noting his set-up ability on Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuains three goals against the Koreans. The choreography allows you to see Messi in a way you never expected to see him, Maradona said. Im extremely impressed with Messis performance. He keeps opponents moving. He hasnt scored yet but... In the matches I played, I was there when they needed me. I didnt always score the goals and this is what Lionel is good for. He is distributing the ball. Maradona is confident in what amounts to a second team, saying some of them could earn their way into the first squad if they play well against Greece. These people are ready to risk their lives on every ball, Maradona said. If they perform well they could be on the first team in the round of 16. They all have a chance. They will fight for a position. Thats the motivation. Maradona, who turns 50 in October, remains unhappy over an unwhistled kicking foul in the Korea match, saying, When the Korean kicks and gets no card, you have your doubts this is football and not kung fu fighting.