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Portugal Coach Fernando Santos Says He Doesn't Regret Benching Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal Coach Fernando Santos Says He Doesn't Regret Benching Cristiano Ronaldo

Following Morocco’s upset defeat of Portugal at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Portugal’s Head Coach Fernando Santos shares that he has “no regrets” about not starting Cristiano Ronaldo. The soccer star only made his way on the field during the 51st minute as his team was trailing 1-0.

Earlier in the tournament being held in Qatar, Ronaldo was played as a substitute during Portugal’s 6-1 win over Switzerland during Round of 16 play. Santos noted that the level of play that he saw from the Portugal team pushed him to keep the same lineup for the Quarterfinal game that loss.

“I don’t think so, no regrets,” said Santos. “I think this was a team which played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, he came in when we thought it was necessary, so no regrets.” Adding, “If we take two persons that were the most upset it is Cristiano Ronaldo and myself. Of course, we are upset, but that is part of the job of the coach and the player.”

During the elimination game against Morocco, Portugal only managed three shots on target when looking to tie the game. Ronaldo’s teammate Bruno Fernandes was highly critical of Argentinian referee Facundo Tello following the game. “I don’t know if they’re going to give the cup to Argentina,” Fernandes said. “I don’t care, I’m going to say what I think and screw them. It’s very strange that a referee from a team that’s still in the cup officiates us. They’ve clearly tilted the field against us.”

Portuguese player Pepe also discussed Tello’s officiating, ”We dominated the game 100 percent of the time. I think what the referee did today; this is an Argentinian referee. After what Messi said yesterday it seems there’s 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.”

Though Santo chose to keep the discussion about his team’s play rather than the referee on the field, leaving his future as Head Coach unknown, “I think we could have done more and we failed to do so, so I don’t think we should blame the referee. I reiterate what I said before the competition, I have a discussion with the President and when we go back to Portugal we will deal with the issue of my contract.”