LUSAIL, Qatar ( Associated Press) – As referee Cesar Ramos blew the whistle to end the match between Portugal and Switzerland, Cristiano Ronaldo greeted several opposing players, stood up in applause from the Portuguese fans and walked into the locker room. Went. , only.
His Portugal beat Switzerland 6-1 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the World Cup. But the man who has scored the most goals in national team soccer and winner of five Ballon d’Ors was not entirely happy on Tuesday night in Qatar.
In a surprise decision, Portuguese coach Fernando Santos sent the captain to the substitutes’ bench.
The decision was overturned after 65 minutes of the 37-year-old superstar, playing in his fifth and probably last World Cup, infamously fuming and gesturing against South Korea.
Santos said a day earlier that he did not like the player’s attitude but assured that everything has been resolved behind closed doors.
After the win against Switzerland, Santos was annoyed by repeated questions about the substitution.
The coach said of Cristiano, ‘We have been friends for many years. “Everything is perfectly organized and he behaved like a true captain.”
Santos, in charge of Portugal since 2014 – and who won the European Championship in France in 2016 to give them their first major title – decided to start with Gonzalo Ramos.
It was a masterful move as the 21-year-old striker scored a hat-trick.
Before the start of the game, Cristiano entered to loud cheers from the Portuguese fans. He practiced with the rest of the substitutes for a few minutes and did a light jog.
During the match, Cristiano spent several minutes biting his nails and smiled a few times as the goal fell.
He entered the match on 74. Soon after, he appeared to score his ninth World Cup goal, which would have tied Eusébio for top Portuguese scorer in tournament history, but it was disallowed for apparent offside.
Cristiano started the tournament with a goal against Ghana and became the first player to score in five different World Cups. But he was ineffective in Portugal’s last two group games and was taken off midway through the second half of a 2–1 defeat to South Korea.
“We have to talk about this team collectively,” Santos said before referring to Cristiano. “I still consider him a very important role in the team.”
That role will be as a stand-in and mentor in the dressing room.
Cristiano smiled as he warmed up on the pitch after Ramos’ second goal.
Ramos said, ‘Cristiano did what he always does as captain. “He talked to me like he talks to everyone. He’s always trying to help and encourage.
It has been a turbulent World Cup for Cristiano, in the midst of which he terminated his contract with Manchester United after an explosive television interview in which he railed against coach Erik ten Haag and the English club’s owners. .
At the end of the match, his teammates, who spent a few minutes in the middle of the field after the victory, all walked together to the same stand where Cristiano went to thank the fans, but did so without them.