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Former Manchester United captain rips Cristiano Ronaldo, who Portugal benched in World Cup match

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville laid into Cristiano Ronaldo following Portugal head coach Fernando Santos’ move to bench Ronaldo in a round of 16 match against Switzerland Tuesday. 

It was surprising to see Ronaldo wearing the yellow World Cup pinny instead of being on the field with the starting 11 as is custom for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Ronaldo’s attitude after coming out early in the final group stage game against South Korea — a game Portugal lost 2-1 — didn’t sit right with Santos. 

Ronaldo was visibly frustrated as he left the game and even seemed to curse at a South Korean opponent on his way out. 

“Have I seen the images? Yes, I didn’t like it, not at all. I didn’t like it,” Santos said via the Manchester Evening News. “I really didn’t like it. But from that moment onwards everything is finished regarding that issue. These matters are resolved behind closed doors. It’s resolved. Full stop on this matter, and now everyone is focused on tomorrow’s match.”

Ronaldo hasn’t been in the best spotlight lately, especially after his Piers Morgan interview during which he ripped Manchester United and head coach Erik Ten Hag as well as Neville. 

Ronaldo was subsequently released by Manchester United just before the World Cup began. 


Prior to kickoff between Portugal and Switzerland, Neville said his piece on the matter. 

“Well what happened at United, the suggestion was, it was because [Erik] Ten Hag was trying to make a move on him, he’s trying to establish his authority. This is a manager [Santos] who’s got an unbelievable relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo for eight years.

“And there are a lot of fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who aren’t willing to tell him the truth. I think he does need to listen to the truth, that it’s becoming a little bit of a scruffy end.”

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal on the bench prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland at Lusail Stadium Dec. 6, 2022, in Lusail City, Qatar.

Neville said it wouldn’t surprise him if Ronaldo entered the game, which he did in the 72nd minute during a 6-1 win over Switzerland. 

“The petulance, the stomping around, the sulking, it’s got to stop because it doesn’t reflect well on him at all,” Neville added. 


“His long-term legacy is set, he’s protected. He’s one of the great all-time players, but in the short term, he’s got to do a lot better, because is the Juventus manager wrong? The Manchester United manager wrong? And now is the Portugal manager wrong? There’s three of them that now have done the same thing with him.”

With Ronaldo out, 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos was his replacement, and he scored a hat trick with Portugal’s first goal of the match on a rocket off his left boot followed by two second-half goals. He also had an assist on Raphael’s goal in the 55th minute. 

In four matches, Ronaldo has one goal, a penalty kick scored against Ghana to open up the tournament. 

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal looks on with teammates prior to a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 round of 16 match against Switzerland at Lusail Stadium Dec. 6, 2022, in Lusail City, Qatar.

Portugal will now take on Morocco, which upset Spain in penalty kicks earlier Tuesday. That match will start at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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