Portuguese and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been in phenomenal form in the FIFA World Cup, evident from his four-goal spree in just two matches.
Having scored a hat-trick in the previous game against Spain, Ronaldo again played a pivotal role in Portugal beating Morocco 1-0 on Wednesday. The goal came off a perfect Ronaldo header in the fourth minute following a cross from Joao Moutinho. His usual, epic celebration followed. This was the best side of Ronaldo on display.
What made social media buzz in the second half revolved around what television pundits and football fans described as his worst side.
In the 84th minute, Portugal attacked and earned a free-kick inches outside the box after Medhi Benatia brought down Ronaldo. Up stepped the Portugal captain. The opposition would have been jittery, and Portugal expectant, given his brilliant free-kick against Spain.
This one, however, was not successful. Ronaldo slammed his shot into the wall and chased the rebound. He reached the ball and then fell to the ground theatrically after light contact with Nordin Amrabat.
Getting up, Ronaldo gestured with his hands to the referee to seek Video Assistant Referee (VAR) opinion. According to the FIFA rules, the decision to refer to VAR lies solely with the on-field referee and players cannot challenge the on-field referee's call, unlike cricket, hockey or tennis.
What was Ronaldo seeking — a card to be flashed, a penalty to be awarded? The referee did neither. Ronaldo moved on, smiling. The game moved on.
Ronaldo is a goal-scoring phenomenon, but has, over the years, earned a reputation for diving and theatrics. These traits do not have a bearing on his goal-scoring, but do not earn him points from fans. Remember the wink after Wayne Rooney was sent off in the 2006 World Cup?
Nevertheless, against Morocco, Portugal again relied on its star to produce its best moment. He has delivered two matches in a row, helping mask the frailties of his team.
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