Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup dream is over, and he left the field in tears following Portugal’s shock loss to Morocco.
Portugal were hot favourites to advance to the semi-finals following their hugely impressive demolition of Switzerland.
The win over the Swiss came with Ronaldo left on the bench after being dropped by coach Fernando Santos for his reaction to being substituted against South Korea.
Ronaldo was named on the bench for the clash with Morocco, but was thrown in at the start of the second half – with the African side a goal to the good thanks to Youssef En-Nesyri‘s goal.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner became the joint most-capped player in men’s international football when thrown on by Santos but was unable to turn the tide in Portugal’s favour, with his one chance of note well saved by Bono in the Morocco goal.
As 10-man Morocco saw out the eight minutes of injury time, a huge roar went around the Al Thumama Stadium as their fans celebrated wildly.
In contrast, Ronaldo, in his 196th appearance for his country, was in floods of tears as the reality of him never being able to get his hands on the World Cup began to sink in.
“That man is upset, but the fact of the matter is it is not about him tonight,” Ally McCoist said on commentary for ITV. “His time has been, it is all about Morocco this evening.”
At 37 years of age and no longer the heartbeat and talisman of the side, the next World Cup in North America is surely beyond Ronaldo.
It remains to be seen whether he continues his career to the 2024 European Championship or elects to walk away from international football.