Santos: Ronaldo's role still 'to be defined' after World Cup benching
Cristiano Ronaldo was named among Portugal's substitutes for Tuesday's dominant 6-1 victory over Switzerland after starting in each of his country's previous three matches at the 2022 World Cup.
The 37-year-old forward's demotion to the bench followed his angry reaction to his withdrawal during the Selecao's final group game against South Korea on Friday. Portugal head coach Fernando Santos expressed his displeasure over Ronaldo's reaction Monday and was asked to clarify the superstar's status in the squad following the resounding win over Switzerland.
"That is still something which has to be defined," Santos said, according to ESPN's James Olley. He then insisted the disciplinary matter was "finished and solved."
Goncalo Ramos, 21, was handed his first senior international start in Ronaldo's stead and scored a hat-trick. Joao Cancelo was another surprise omission from Santos' XI. Diogo Dalot was picked ahead of the Manchester City full-back and set up Ramos' second goal.
Ronaldo's omission meant he didn't start a game for Portugal at a major tournament for the first time since 2008. He was visibly frustrated when he was called off when the score was 1-1 between Portugal and South Korea, appearing to say Santos was "in a rush" to substitute him. Portugal went on to lose the match 2-1.
Ronaldo was introduced in the 74th minute of Portugal's rout of Switzerland, but he couldn't muster a shot on target or a key pass during his cameo.
The Portuguese icon's disciplinary issue with the national team follows numerous indiscretions that led to the mutual termination of his contract with Manchester United in November. Those behavioral concerns included public disagreements with some of United manager Erik ten Hag's decisions, including anger at being substituted and a refusal to be introduced off the bench for a match against Tottenham Hotspur.