MOSCOW - European champions Portugal comfortably dispatched New Zealand 4-0 to reach the Confederations Cup semi-finals on Saturday after Cristiano Ronaldo set them on their way with a penalty.

Portugal’s all-time leading scorer swept the ball home in the 33rd minute, his 75th goal for his country, and Bernardo Silva added the second four minutes later. A solo effort from Andre Silva, his eighth goal in 11 appearances, in the 80th minute and a stoppage-time goal from substitute Nani completed the scoring.

It was a typically efficient performance from Portugal who never looked in real danger despite a sluggish start. However, it was not all good news as Bernardo Silva went off injured at halftime, while a needless and reckless challenge from Pepe, with his side 2-0 up, earned the controversial central defender his second yellow card of the tournament, ruling him out of Wednesday’s semi-final. “It was an odd game - we were in control, but they started creating problems, and if it had got back to 2-1, it could have got complicated,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.

New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, who helped Unterhaching win promotion from the German fourth division last season, kept the score down with a superb second-half display. The Oceania champions were far from disgraced but have now competed in the tournament four times without winning a game and have an overall record of 11 defeats and a draw in 12 matches.

Even so, coach Anthony Hudson was proud of his side, who refused to shut up shop in the second half. “We know we’ve played some really good football at times. We never stopped. We created chances, we put them under pressure, so we could have got a little more out of this tournament,” he told reporters. “This team are on the right path, they have got great character, great belief and it’s a young team moving in the right direction.”

Portugal topped Group A with seven points from three games, ahead of Mexico on goal difference after the CONCACAF champions beat hosts Russia 2-1. New Zealand finished bottom of the group after losing all three games. Ronaldo had already headed against the crossbar before firing Portugal ahead after Danilo went tumbling under a challenge from two defenders and the referee pointed to the spot without asking for a video replay.

Bernardo Silva turned Eliseu’s low cross into the net four minutes later, although he suffered a knock on the ankle in the process. Marinovic made impressive saves to deny Ronaldo, Andre Silva and Nani but was powerless stop Andre Silva when he collected the ball on the halfway line, ran at two defenders who backed off, and fired his shot into the far corner. Meanwhile, Hirving Lozano’s courageous second-half header sealed Mexico’s 2-1 comeback win over 10-man Russia on Saturday and fired them into the Confederations Cup semi-finals.

Hosts Russia took a deserved 25th-minute lead in Kazan through Aleksandr Samedov, but Nestor Araujo equalised for Mexico with a looping header on the half hour. New PSV Eindhoven signing Lozano then headed Mexico into the last four as he beat Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to Hector Herrera’s towering kick from inside his own half on 52 minutes. Russia’s hopes of a comeback were further hampered in the final 20 minutes when Yury Zhirkov was sent off for a second yellow card.  While the hosts bow out, Mexico progress as Group A runners-up to play the winners of Group B in Sochi next Thursday.

Just as they did in the 2-2 draw with Portugal and subsequent victory over New Zealand, Mexico made a slow start and again fell behind. Mexico captain Andres Guardado picked up an early booking that will rule him out of the semi-final, while the video assistant referee was summoned to reject Russian penalty claims after Fyodor Smolov went to ground in the area.

Russia went ahead though as Smolov hit the post, with Aleksandr Erokhin knocking the rebound to Samedov who drilled past Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. But the goal sparked Mexico into life and they were level just five minutes later. Porto midfielder Herrera fired in a deep cross to the far post where Araujo lifted the ball over Akinfeev and into the opposite corner. Mexico lost Diego Reyes to injury just before the break when the Espanyol defender rolled his ankle making an innocuous pass. The linesman’s flag denied Spartak Moscow’s Samedow after he put the ball in the net early in the second half, and Mexico forged ahead as Lozano’s brave gamble paid off.

Herrara’s thumping clearance was allowed to bounce just outside the Russian area, with Lozano clattered by Akinfeev as he nipped in front of the keeper to head into an unguarded net on 52 minutes. Mexico then had another goal ruled out for offside following more consultation with the video referee, and Russia suffered a further blow when Zhirkov was dismissed on 68 minutes.

Substitute Igor Smolnikov blazed over from close range with quarter of an hour remaining to compound Russia’s misery.