Cristiano Ronaldo has dramatically lamented “difficult times” following the dreadful officiating that denied Portugal a clear goal in their 2022 World Cup qualifying match in Serbia, while his boss revealed what the ref told him.
Outraged Ronaldo was booked for wildly protesting to the offending assistant, then left the pitch before the end of the match, shaking his head in disgust and throwing his captain’s armband to the turf at the end of an agonizing 2-2 draw.
“Being captain of the Portugal team is one of the greatest pride and privileges of my life,” the Juventus superstar told his hundreds of millions of followers on Instagram, breaking his silence after the bizarre ending that saw his teammates and manager Fernando Santos remonstrate with referee Danny McKeley over the injustice.
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“I always give and will give everything for my country – that will never change. But there are difficult times to deal with, especially when we feel that an entire nation is being wronged.”
Ronaldo attempted to add a positive spin to a testing week for Portugal that began with an unexpectedly edgy 1-0 home win over also-rans Azerbaijan in which he also drew a blank.
“Lift your head and face the next challenge now,” he urged, adding emojis showing the national flag, a heart and a bulging bicep. “Come on, Portugal.”
Dutchman McKeley, who was drafted in as the replacement referee when the team of officials was switched amid accusations of racism in the Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir earlier this season, appears to have spoken to Santos.
“The judge looked again [at the replay] and apologized to me for the mistake,” Santos told Eurosport after watching his side drop points.
“For that, I respect him. Of course, we ourselves are to blame for not achieving the desired result. But when the ball is in the goal, it must be counted.”
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