Ronaldo’s head appeared to have made the slightest contact to put Portugal ahead of Uruguay. Close-up replays revealed that Ronaldo’s decisive touch on Bruno Fernandes’ looping left-side cross in the 54th minute was lacking.
Ronaldo passionately celebrated what he believed to be his goal, which tied him with the legendary Eusebio for the most goals scored by Portugal in World Cup history with nine. However, it was later given to Fernandes, who would score a late penalty in extra time after Ronaldo was replaced to give Portugal a spot in the round of 16 with still one game remaining.
All post-game conversation centred on the mystery surrounding who scored the goals.
In a post-game press conference, Fernandes, who was awarded man of the match, said, “I celebrated as if it was Cristiano’s goal.” He appeared to have touched the ball, in my opinion. It was intended to be crossed for him.
“Regardless matter who scored, we are pleased with the victory. The fact that we achieved our goal of moving on to the next round is what matters most.
However, questions about the goal’s scorer persisted. Ruben Neves and Bernardo Silva were questioned similarly in the mixed zone.
Neves affirmed, “I didn’t see it. However, the fact that we scored the goal that gave us the advantage to win and advance is what matters most.
Following a 3-2 victory over Ghana to start their campaign, Portugal’s victory puts them in a strong position to win Group ‘H’ and maybe avoid playing Brazil in the first round of the elimination rounds. Brazil is expected to win Group ‘G’ and go to the round of 16 crossover.
When Uruguay faced Portugal at that stage in Russia four years prior, the South Americans prevailed 2-1 thanks to a brace from Edinson Cavani.
They exorcised the ghosts of that loss on Monday, and by remaining focused despite the distraction of Ronaldo’s drama with Manchester United, they enter the knockout stages with the belief that they have what it takes to win it all. But for the time being, they’re going slowly.