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Portugal dream just about alive as sleep-deprived Ronaldo flops

Omnisport
NEWS
News
1.09K   //    26 Jun 2018, 02:28 IST
ronaldo-cropped
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is shown a yellow card

In the football supporters' playbook for riling an opposing team, being unruly outside their hotel is the first thing to be taught and it can be effective – just ask Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Iran fans spent the night making a racket right outside Portugal's lodgings in Saransk on Sunday night, so much so that Ronaldo eventually appeared at a window pleading with them to calm down.

Unsurprisingly it failed to heed much of a response – the Iran party continuing most of the night and Portugal looked jaded less than 24 hours later in their 1-1 draw.

On the eve of the vital Group B encounter, Portugal needed their talisman at his sharpest, while he would've been eager to send Iran packing for more personal reasons.

The contest saw him come up against friend-turned-foe Carlos Queiroz, the Iran manager who was once Ronaldo's mentor at Manchester United before becoming something of an enemy with Portugal.

Their relationship fell apart following Portugal's 2010 World Cup exit, Ronaldo responding with "ask Queiroz" when asked why they had been eliminated by Spain, though their friendship had long-been strained by the manager's negative tactics which saw their star man score just once in 16 months.

They were united by a desperation to bring about the other's demise on Monday and Ronaldo showed little to suggest his insomnia had no effect.

The Real Madrid superstar struggled to make much of an impact during the first half – an early shot easily saved by Ali Beiranvand about all he mustered in front of goal.

Given Portugal's reliance on him, a quiet first period could've easily given their twitchier supporters cause for concern. After all, Ronaldo had scored each of Portugal's four goals at these finals before Monday.

But to the relief of all Portugal fans, Ricardo Quaresma proved Ronaldo isn't the only one capable of moments of inspiration.

The winger jinked inside from the right, playing a one-two with Adrien Silva before picking out the top-far corner with the outside of his right foot.

For a moment in the second half, Ronaldo came to life. He darted into the area and after a clumsy tackle he was awarded with a penalty – with a little thanks to VAR.

Had the Iran fans actually just poked a slowly-waking bear?

No. Beiranvand stopped his feeble spot-kick, with Ronaldo looking lost and despondent as a result.

Iran were inspired by Beiranvand's save and become even more fierce than they had been, the match evolving into an intense scrap devoid of moments of technical brilliance but high on drama.

Ronaldo again tried to light things up with 15 minutes to go, though his run towards the left side of the penalty area was halted easily by a defender.

His frustrations then saw him lash out at Morteza Pouraliganji, catching him with an elbow. Were it not for referee Enrique Caceres clearly trying to ensure he wasn't the story, Ronaldo surely would have been sent off.

Iran levelled late on from the penalty spot through Karim Ansarifard and almost snatched a stoppage-time victory which would have sent them through at the expense of Fernando Santos' men, only for Mehdi Taremi to fluff his lines.

Ultimately, they survived by the skin of their teeth and a sleep-deprived Ronaldo managed to avoid falling into a nightmare, as Portugal's dependence on their star man was laid bare.

Omnisport
NEWS
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