Cristiano Ronaldo says his injured knee “ended exactly like it began” and it is expected to now keep him out for at least two months, as recriminations have begun over Portugal’s first-round World Cup elimination.
Much of the attention has centred on the Real Madrid star and his failure to reproduce the relentless form that won him the 2013 Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo’s goal in the 2-1 win over Ghana took his overall tally in the World Cup to just three.
That has attracted all the more focus because this was seen as something of a last chance for him to finally excel at the tournament in while in his prime, given that he will be 33 by the time Russia 2018 arrives. In mitigation, however, Ronaldo has played through a knee-tendonitis problem.
That was also said to be a factor in his diminished performances leading up to Real Madrid’s victorious Champions League final in Lisbon, prompting recurrent storylines prior to Brazil that his World Cup was either under threat or he was supposedly defying medical advice to play. Ronaldo is understood to hugely proud of his work with Portugal, and was desperate to deliver in this tournament, despite speculation about his frustration with the team.
However, after the 2-1 victory over Ghana, which eliminated Portugal on goal difference behind USA in Group G, Ronaldo was asked whether his knee had improved with treatment. “It ended exactly like it began,” he responded.
Portugal 2 Ghana 1 player ratings
Portugal 2 Ghana 1 player ratings
Was challenged very rarely but was up to the challenge when called upon. A decent afternoon’s work. 6
2/22 Joao Pereira
Raced forward at every given opportunity and gave Portugal an attacking threat down the right flank. An exciting display. 7
3/22 Miguel Veloso
Struggled with the aerial battle from set-plays but delivered an otherwise composed performance. 6
4/22 William Carvalho
It isn’t difficult to see why a host of Premier League giants have been scouting Willian Carvalho. A mature outing for his country. 7
While volatile in a Real Madrid shirt, Pepe seemed much more composed for Portugal this afternoon. Comfortable in possession and tough into the tackle, this was a typically impressive shift. 7
6/22 Bruno Alves
Strived to get forward whenever possible but ultimately failed to make his mark in the final third. 6
Delivering a display as skilful as it was commanding, this was an efficient and ordered performance from the Benfica man. 7
8/22 Joao Moutinho
A real thorn in Ghana’s side, Joao Moutinho’s trickery made him dangerous every time Portugal picked up the ball. Alongside his more impotent teammates, this was an admirable performance. 7
After a series of attacking displays for Braga, it was surprising to see Eder operate quite so defensively. A quiet afternoon. 6
While impressive in the opening stages, with a turn of pace which frightened the Ghana defence, the much maligned Manchester United winger struggled in the second half. 6
11/22 Cristiano Ronaldo
A constant menace, the Real Madrid superstar carried Portugal for much of the game. Regularly frustrated by Fatawu Dauda in the Ghana net, he finally found a way through courtesy of an almost comical error from the Ghana keeper. 8
12/22 Fatawu Dauda
Made a series of excellent saves which included the stunning point blank stop from Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half header. Gifted the Real Madrid man an easy goal later on, though, which will ultimately steal the morning headlines.
13/22 Harrison Afful
Foolishly booked, Harrison Afful was treading on eggshells for the rest of the match. 6
14/22 Kwadwo Asamoah
Will be remembered for his majestic ball which set-up Asamoah Gyan’s second half goal and rightfully so. An outlet which Ghana used to build a series of attacks upon. 7
15/22 Mohammed Rabiu
Proved why clubs in the Russian Premier League find it so difficult to get past him, Portugal didn’t have the answer. 7
16/22 John Boye
Bitterly unlucky to concede an own goal but, on reflection, will most likely conclude that he should have done much better. 6
17/22 John Mensah
British audiences may remember John Mensah from his loan spell with Sunderland last year but this was a decidedly timid display. 6
18/22 Christian Atsu
After an encouraging season on loan at Vitesse, from Chelsea, this was another decent performance from Ghana’s young midfield star. 7
19/22 Emmanuel Badu
Desperately unlucky not to get on the score sheet, after glancing an effort just wide, Emmanuel Badu may think that he could have done more. 6
20/22 Asamoah Gyan
Became the highest scoring African at the World Cup after a series of poor misses. Unlike his strike past Beto in the Portugal net, however, those misses won’t be noted in the history books. 7
21/22 Majeed Waris
Guilty of an awful miss in the second half, Majeed Waris had the potential to break Portugal down but failed to live up to expectations. 6
22/22 Andre Ayew
Used his fearsome pace to good effect while also coming inside and shooting on many occasions. A good afternoon’s work. 7
Ronaldo’s discomfort was evident throughout the World Cup, as was his frustration with the tournament. The 29-year-old was said to be somewhat embarrassed at being made man of the match against Ghana, repeatedly pointing out the errors that were threaded through his performance.
Having left for Brazil with so much fanfare, Ronaldo’s return was much more muted. He arrived back in Lisbon on Friday with only a handful of fans there to greet him, and left the airport having picked up a taxi at a public rank. Ronaldo will now begin a recuperation plan while on holiday, but is not expected to return to action for at least two months.
Ronaldo has not been spared criticism in Portugal. There has been speculation about his elevated status in the squad and his demanding nature, and a former Portuguese club coach has asked questions about the effect of all that.
Manuel Jose, who has worked at Sporting Lisbon and Benfica, said: “He is a fantastic player but every time he speaks he comes out with a blunder. He ended up saying that he never believed in the team. If he does not believe in the team, then he doesn’t believe in his team-mates.
“Portugal have been carrying the ‘world’s best’ like a diamond ring that we never had.”Reuse content