Cristiano Ronaldo left his team-mates celebrating on the pitch as he walked down the tunnel at the end of Portugal’s win over Switzerland. Portugal won 6-1 in the last-16 clash to set up a tie with Morocco.
Ronaldo was dropped by manager Fernando Santos after throwing a strop following his substitution against South Korea. Santos was not happy with his captain’s behaviour and left him on the bench, instead handing a first ever international start to Goncalo Ramos.
The switch paid off as Ramos scored a hat-trick as Ronaldo watched on from the dugout. The superstar was brought on with 17 minutes left with his side already 5-1 up.
He managed to put the ball in the back of the net, but he was yards offside and the goal was disallowed. But he did not stay on the pitch for long after full-time and was the first Portugal player down the tunnel.
Ronaldo did applaud Portugal fans quickly before heading to the dressing room, while his team-mates stayed on the pitch to soak up the adoration. After the game Santos denied he dropped Ronaldo because he had an issue with the former Manchester United star.
Santos said, “Cristiano and Ramos are different players. There is no problem with the captain of the team. I have known Cristiano since he was 19. We have a strong relationship. Ronaldo and I never confuse the human and personal aspect with being manager and player. Cristiano set the example of a captain.”
Ramos was asked about the atmosphere in the dressing room after Santos’ big call and whether Ronaldo had said anything to him.
The young striker replied, “Honestly, in our team, no-one talked about it. Cristiano, as our captain, did what he always does. He helped us, he encouraged us, not only me but also my team-mates. Never in my wildest dreams did I think of being part of the starting 11 in the knockout stages.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was one of my role models, along with Lewandowski and Ibrahimovic. He’s a captain, the leader and we always look forward to playing side by side with him.”
Portugal midfielder Otavio added, “We are 26 players. Everyone’s important and it was no surprise Goncalo did the job. But we know what Cristiano’s value is — he’s a star, the best in the world. He also helped us from the bench.”
Veteran defender Pepe, who headed the second goal after Ramos’ brilliant finish opened the scoring, said “Ronaldo knows perfectly well the important thing is the ‘We’. The coach’s choice must be respected.”
Before the match, Santos insisted Ronaldo’s omission was not linked to his dissent after being subbed in the group-stage defeat by South Korea.
Santos said, “It has nothing to do with it. It is a strategic issue that was already being prepared for this game.”
Despite Portugal’s amazing display without Ronaldo, the crowd started chanting his name on the hour. The biggest roars of the night were heard when he came on with 17 minutes to go and when he put the ball in the net — only to be ruled well offside. Ronaldo disappeared down the tunnel while his team celebrated with the Portugal fans.
Shellshocked Swiss boss Murat Yakin, who was without defenders Silvan Widmer and Nico Elvedi through illness, said: “We are sad about how we played and the result. We have to accept that our opponents were better, faster and more offensive.”
- The Sun report