Whether Cristiano Ronaldo touched Bruno Fernandes' cross was Monday's big talking point


Cristiano Ronaldo texts Piers Morgan from the locker room straight after Portugal’s 2-0 win over Uruguay to say he DID touch Bruno Fernandes’ cross for opening goal, Alexi Lalas reveals

Alexi Lalas has revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo immediately texted Piers Morgan from the locker room right after Portugal’s 2-0 over Uruguay to claim that he did in fact touch Bruno Fernandes’ cross to open the scoring.

‘The breaking new is the Cristiano Ronaldo did not score despite his claims that it did touch him,’ the ex-USMNT captain said on Fox Soccer. ‘I was just with Piers Morgan and he said that Cristiano texted him from the locker room saying that he believes that it touched his head. So, uhm, who knows.’ 

The 37-year-old wheeled away in celebration, acting as though he had scored once again at a World Cup, in the 54th minute of Monday’s game. Not this time, however.

Whether Cristiano Ronaldo touched Bruno Fernandes' cross was Monday's big talking point

Whether Cristiano Ronaldo touched Bruno Fernandes’ cross was Monday’s big talking point

Ronaldo leapt to get his head to Fernandes's cross against Uruguay on Monday evening

Ronaldo leapt to get his head to Fernandes’s cross against Uruguay on Monday evening

The ball ends up in the back of the net as Ronaldo (right) watches on against Uruguay

The ball ends up in the back of the net as Ronaldo (right) watches on against Uruguay

A grinning Ronaldo threw his arms in the air, suggesting he got the final touch, and was embracing Fernandes, who plays in midfield, as multiple close-up replays were being shown on the big screens in Lusail Stadium.

Alas for Ronaldo, the goal wound up being awarded to Fernandes, who added a second from the penalty spot in stoppage time after a handball by Jose Maria Gimenez as he slid in to challenge the Manchester United playmaker.

‘I don’t really think it matters who scored,’ Fernandes said about the first goal. ‘The feeling at the time was that he (Ronaldo) touched the ball — I was crossing it to him — but what’s important was we moved into the next round and beat a very big opponent.’

Fernandes was denied a hat trick with virtually the last kick of the game, his shot from outside the area hitting the post and bouncing wide.

Fernandes scores Portugal's second goal from a penalty in the last minutes of Monday's game

Fernandes scores Portugal’s second goal from a penalty in the last minutes of Monday’s game

Portugal, which opened with a 3-2 win over Ghana, became the third team to reach the last 16 after France and Brazil. The team also avenged its loss to Uruguay in the last 16 at the 2018 tournament on Monday.

Uruguay has one point from two matches and needs to beat Ghana on Friday to stand a chance of advancing. The 2010 semifinalists have yet to score a goal at this tournament, with coach Diego Alonso even putting 35-year-old striker Luis Suarez on the bench in search of the right combination up front.

Portugal has no such worries. The team has scored five goals in two games and Fernandes has had a hand in four of them as he dictates play in his role as the team’s No. 10.

Ronaldo was unable to add to the penalty he scored against Ghana, which took his World Cup tally to eight goals from five tournaments and his men’s record of international goals to 118.

Ronaldo and Fernandes (right) didn't seem to care who scored at the end, as they embraced

Ronaldo and Fernandes (right) didn’t seem to care who scored at the end, as they embraced

He still was the center of attention, though, illuminating a lackluster first half with tricks and flicks that brought gasps from the crowd inside the World Cup’s largest venue, where Ronaldo will hope to return for the final on December 18.

For now, though, the Portugal captain is assured of at least two more matches in what is likely his final World Cup and will play in the knockout stage for the fourth time in his career.

A draw against South Korea in its final Group H match will secure first place for Portugal, and likely avoid a last-16 meeting with Brazil.

As for Uruguay, a must-win game awaits against Ghana — a repeat of the 2010 quarterfinal match won by the South American team in a penalty shootout after Suarez was sent off for a handball on the line in stoppage time of extra time.

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