Saturday, February 4, 2023

The World Cup ends without a title for Cristiano Ronaldo

DOHA ( Associated Press) – There will be no title for Cristiano Ronaldo in what will probably be his last appearance at the most important tournament in world soccer.

After starting on the substitutes’ bench for the second game in a row, Ronaldo was unable to lead the response against Morocco, who beat Portugal 1-0 in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Ronaldo, 37, left the pitch crying.

He came on as a substitute at the start of the second half, when his team was already behind. He equaled Kuwaiti striker Badr Al-Mutawa’s record by coming on in the 51st minute for his 196th cap, replacing midfielder Ruben Neves.

In his fifth and probably final World Cup, Ronaldo also came on as a substitute in the round of 16 against Switzerland.

Morocco won on Saturday with Youssef An-Nesri’s header in the 42nd minute.

Ronaldo was one of the first substitutions arranged by Portuguese coach Fernando Santos, and after receiving the captain’s armband from defender Pepe, he ran onto the field to cheer on his teammates. As time ran out, he raised his arms to the Portuguese fans – vastly outnumbered from Morocco – to ask for their support.

Ronaldo added intensity to a Portuguese attack that was struggling to overcome the well-structured Moroccan defence. Immediately, he created a chance with a cross into the box and soon lost a ball. He set up Joao Felix in the 82nd minute, but the Moroccan goalkeeper saved the shot. He also saved Ronaldo’s shot in the last second.

After the final whistle, he walked off the field and was crying when he reached the tunnel leading to the changing rooms.

Some of the Moroccan players tried to console him, but no Portuguese accompanied him as he left. Most remained on the pitch and went to the Portuguese stands to thank them for their support.

Santos patted Rolando on the back as he passed him.

Ronaldo had said before the World Cup that he had no plans to retire from Portugal after Qatar and would stay until at least the 2024 European Championships.

With eight goals in the World Cup, he was yet to equal Eusébio’s record.

Goncalo Ramos, who scored a hat-trick on his debut for Portugal in a 6–1 win over Switzerland, started again against Morocco.

In the game against South Korea at the end of the group stage, Ronaldo was benched against Switzerland after Santos expressed anger at the captain’s attitude.

Santos said yesterday that Cristiano was “not happy” when he was informed of the decision not to start, but he never threatened to leave the World Cup because of it.

Cristiano, the national team’s top scorer in men’s football with 118 victories, came on as a substitute after 74 minutes.

Portugal’s attempt was to reach the semi-finals for the third time. He was third in 1966 and fourth in 2006. They had not progressed past the last 16 since the World Cup in Germany 16 years earlier.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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