Ruining a golden generation of players by continuing to shoehorn Ronaldo into the team" - Portugal fans on Twitter blame Fernando Santos for continuing to play an out-of-form Cristiano Ronaldo after last-gasp defeat to Spain

Portugal coach Fernando Santos was brutalized by fans after loss to Spain
Portugal coach Fernando Santos was brutalized by fans after loss to Spain

Fans were left frustrated with Portugal coach Fernando Santos for his poor tactics and favoritism towards Cristiano Ronaldo. The 2016 European champions were beaten 1-0 by Spain in the UEFA Nations League, in a game where Ronaldo was poor.

A draw would have been enough for Santos' side to get through to the final four of the Nations League. However, Spain managed a last-ditch winner through Alvaro Morata after a moment of defensive lapse from the Portuguese backline.

They seemed to have lost focus as Nico Williams rose above Joan Cancelo to find a free Alvaro Morata. The Atletico Madrid striker slotted the ball home to give La Roja a ticket to the final four of the UEFA Nations League.

Lutámos até ao fim, mas não conquistámos o resultado esperado. Foco total no Mundial! 🇵🇹 #VesteABandeiraWe fought until the end, but we didn't get the expected result. Full focus on the World Cup! 🇵🇹 #WearTheFlag

It has become a familiar story for Portuguese fans to see their side lose when a draw would be enough to secure qualification.

Fans will remember when Aleksander Mitrovic scored a last-ditch winner for Serbia to deny Portugal direct qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Fans were also enraged by Santos' decision to keep starting Cristiano Ronaldo. The 37-year-old looked way past his prime and had no contribution to his team's attack.

He was left frustrated throughout the night. Poor finishing and lack of positioning awareness haunted the five-time Ballon d'Or winner throughout the game.

Ronaldo has now scored one goal in ten games for club and country so far this season. He is yet to find the back of the net from open play. With the likes of Diogo Jota, Joao Felix, and Rafael Leao available, it's hard to justify Santos' decision to start Ronaldo.

Many mentioned the duo of Santos and Ronaldo are holding back a golden generation of Portuguese players. With the likes of Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Neves, Joao Cancelo and more in their ranks, the team has immense depth at their disposal.

Here are some of the best reactions across Twitter:

Portugal are ruining a golden generation of players by continuing to shoehorn Ronaldo into the team. Jota should be their CF and then play whoever you want out wide
Portugal 🇵🇹 learned nothing from the Serbia 🇷🇸 debacle a year ago. It happened again.You play at home, you need only a point to qualify, you have amazingly talented team, you decide to sit back, you concede in the final minutes of the game, you lose. Fernando Santos.#PORESP
I know everyone says this when Portugal lose, but Fernando Santos:
Fernando Santos is the worst manager up there with Gareth Southgate
At the end of the day, Ronaldo will continue to be a starter no matter how poor of a footballer he is in 2022. That's down to Fernando Santos' cowardice. But the fact is, he has no place in Portugal's strongest XI and is taking away more than he is contributing to their attack.
I’ll say it for the 1000th time. Ronaldo is past his sell-by date and any team that choose to make him a starter in his current shape and form will not prevail. ETH saw it but Fernando Santos pretended to not see it. Sadly, football is a realistic enterprise not an emotional one.
If Portugal are going to lose at home so consistently when they just need a draw (Santos MASTERCLASS x3 in qualification now), they could at least go down playing some entertaining football, right? All this boredom for nada.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Santos are both holding Portugal back from reaching their full potential today, and they're both still here because nostalgia has turned into blind loyalty to a bygone era. It's time for a change but unfortunately it may be too late for Portugal.
Portugal play for a draw, Spain score in 80th and then Portugal don’t have enough time to equalize. Classic Santos.

Should Portugal start Cristiano Ronaldo at 2022 FIFA World Cup?

Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the greatest player ever to play football. However, the game involves reality rather than nostalgia.

Right now, Ronaldo is nowhere near where he used to be. Hence, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has demoted him to the bench.

If his form doesn't improve ahead of the World Cup, which is on the horizon, Portugal coach Fernando Santos needs to reassess what's best for his team's interests. The 2016 European champions have other options available in attack, such as Rafael Leao, Joao Felix, and Diogo Jota.

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Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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