AL THUMAMA, Qatar – Portugal coach Fernando Santos has said he has “no regrets” not starting Cristiano Ronaldo despite leaving the World Cup in Morocco.
Ronaldo was brought on the bench in the 51st minute with Portugal trailing 1-0 but the 37-year-old could not inspire a fight back as Morocco became the first African side to reach a semi-final in world Cup.
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Santos also named Ronaldo, who was seen leaving the pitch in tears at the end of the match, as a replacement for their 6-1 win over Switzerland in the round of 16 and said the result was enough to convince him to keep the game. same team. for the quarter-final.
“I don’t think so, no regrets,” Santos said. “I think they were a team that played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, he came when we thought it was necessary, so no regrets.
“If we take two people who have been most upset, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo and myself. Of course we’re upset, but that’s part of the job of the coach and the player.”
Morocco won through Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri’s header in the first half when he edged past Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa to score a historic goal for his country.
Portugal managed just three shots on target as they looked to equalise, and afterwards Bruno Fernandes was highly critical of Argentine referee Facundo Tello.
“I don’t know if they’re going to give Argentina the cup,” Fernandes said. “I don’t care, I’ll speak my mind and screw them. It’s very strange that a referee from a team that’s still in the cup is officiating at us. They clearly tilted the pitch against us.”
Fernandes’ team-mate Pepe also questioned Tello’s performance and suggested Lionel Messi’s criticism of the referee in Argentina’s penalty shoot-out win over the Netherlands Friday had played a role.
“We dominated the game 100% of the time,” said Pepe. “I think what the referee did today, he’s an Argentinian referee. After what Messi said yesterday, it seems there is something very weird. We couldn’t play in the second half because the referee kept stopping the game.
“I’m very angry, very angry because the referee didn’t let us play.”
Asked about Tello afterwards, Santos played down his impact on the result while leaving his future as Portugal boss up in the air.
“I think we could have done more and we failed to do so, so I don’t think we should blame the referee,” Santos said. “I reiterate what I said before the competition, I have a discussion with the president and when we return to Portugal we will settle the question of my contract.