Cristiano Ronaldo wins man of match in rough opener
Cristiano Ronaldo hit a post with what would have been one of the goals of the tournament. But he also picked up a yellow card after losing his cool.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
The 2008 FIFA world player of the year hit a post with what would have been one of the goals of the tournament and was man of the match in the Group G match. But he also picked up a yellow card after losing his cool.
Business as usual then for the Real Madrid forward.
Ronaldo's frustration built as it became increasingly apparent that he was set to extend a scoreless streak for his country that started 16 months ago.
After two early fouls against him and a 30-meter (yard) strike that bounded off the post, Ronaldo was involved in an altercation with Ivory Coast defender Guy-Roland Demel on the edge of the penalty area in the 21st minute.
The winger complained about the severity of Demel's challenge to referee Jorge Larrionda, who responded by showing both players a yellow card.
Ronaldo, the Portugal captain, was fouled five times, causing coach Carlos Queiroz to question whether his player had been protected enough by the referee.
"Ronaldo was the victim of a bad decision," Queiroz said. "But we don't like to see our team penalized with yellow cards and I am sure this will not happen again."
Queiroz praised Ronaldo for the example he showed as captain and his overall contribution.
FIFA's statistics from the match back up his coach's assessment. He played the entire match, directed one of his three shots on target, completed 21 of 35 passes and covered 9,577 meters on the pitch at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Ronaldo, who scored 26 goals for Real Madrid this season but has not scored for Portugal since a 1-0 win over Finland in February 2009, admitted he was frustrated throughout the match.
"Sometimes it is difficult that the referee does not give fouls," Ronaldo said. "It is complicated. I understand they have to protect the most dangerous, the most skillful players. I did nothing and he gave me a yellow card. I do not understand."
"But I don't want to speak about the referees. I respect all decisions."
On Sunday after Portugal training, Ronaldo was optimistic the drought would end soon.
"The goals will come. They'll come naturally," Ronaldo said. "It's like a great player once told me: goals are like ketchup ... you keep on forcing it, then it comes all at once."