Monday, May 20News That Matters

Portugal boss reveals why Cristiano Ronaldo was benched for Switzerland clash

Portugal manager Fernando Santos claims Cristiano Ronaldo was not dropped for the World Cup round of 16 victory over Switzerland because of his conduct in a previous game.

Ronaldo began Tuesday in Qatar on the bench and only came on for the last 17 minutes as Portugal thrashed their opponents 6-1 to advance to the quarter-finals.

It was believed that Santos decided to drop his star player and captain after he sulked after being replaced by another player in the defeat to South Korea in their last group game.

The decision was surprising, but perhaps equally shocking was the striker replacing Ronaldo, with 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos selected ahead of Andre Silva and Rafael Leao.

It was Ramos’ first start for his country, but the risk paid off well after the Benfica forwadd netted a remarkable hattrick.

Post-match, Santos was quizzed why exactly he benched Ronaldo and the manager denied that it was over the South Korea incident.

‘Cristiano and Ramos are different players. There is no problem with the captain of the national team,’ he said.

‘It was strategic. Players are different. I also started [Diogo] Dalot, Raphael [Guerreiro], however [Joao] Cancelo is a fabulous player.

‘That’s what I thought for the game against Switzerland, in another game it might be different.

‘There is no problem between Fernando Santos and the captain of the national team. We’ve been friends for many years and things don’t affect us.

‘Coaches make decisions. I already explained, that part was completely resolved and he set an example of a great captain.’

Ronaldo looked upset at not being in the starting lineup, the first time he has not started for Portugal at a major tournament since Euro 2008.

But he happily celebrated with his side after every goal against Switzerland, while supporters cheered his name and urged Santos to sub him on during the second-half.

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