Portugal have booked their ticket to the World Cup knockouts after coming through a gruelling match-up against Uruguay in Group H, winning 2-0 courtesy of Bruno Fernandes’ cross-cum-shot and a late penalty.
It was a tense opening 45 minutes between these two heavyweight footballing nations, with both betraying a slight apprehension and skittishness in the final third. Rodrigo Bentancur’s near-Puskas worthy run and attempted poke produced the half’s only shot on target.
On first glance it appeared as though Ronaldo nodded the ball past Sergio Rochet to match Eusebio’s World Cup record of nine goals for Portugal. Indeed, his vociferous celebrations suggested the ball did, in fact, take the slightest of nicks off his scalp.
After initially awarding the finish to Ronaldo and plenty of debate online about who actually got the final touch, Fifa eventually reversed its decision and named Fernandes as the official goalscorer, leading to collective finger-pointing at Ronaldo for his over-the-top celebrations.
As the ball whistled past Rochet, Ronaldo immediately lifts his hand vertically and points his index finger as if to suggest he got a touch. “That is pretty good acting”, Graeme Souness commented in the aftermath as ITV‘s assembled panel discussed whether the five-time Ballon d’Or winner got a touch or not.
“He’ll be regretting he got a haircut this morning”, Souness added as debate raged on both in the studio and online. Some have even likened the moment to a famous case involving Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen during a Tottenham match against Stoke City in April 2018.
As Eriksen delivered a similar ball (to Fernandes’) into the box four years ago in Staffordshire, Kane leapt, and appeared to glance the ball into the back of the net. The Premier League, though, awarded the goal to Eriksen despite Kane’s celebrations.
What happened next has become footballing folklore.
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In quite extraordinary circumstances, Spurs appealed to the division’s goal accreditation appeals panel to have the goal taken off Eriksen and handed to Kane. They won their appeal, and Kane got his goal. Unfortunately, the England man didn’t go on to win the Golden Boot that season, with his 30 strikes falling just two shy of Mohamed Salah’s 32.
Portugal won’t mind who scored against Uruguay, though. Fernando Santos will just be relieved his side got over the line and confirmed their place in the last 16.
Fernandes did manage to put the ball into the back of the net beyond all doubt later on after converting from the spot. Plenty of talking points, but job done for Portugal.
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