After the final whistle, Cristiano Ronaldo strode abruptly off the field, pulling off his captain’s armband and brushing aside his coach.
While other Portuguese players stayed on to salute their fans after a 1-0 loss to Germany at Arena Lviv today, Ronaldo was already way down the tunnel.
Miserable and inconsolable, the world’s most expensive player was the picture of frustration after his first match at this year’s European Championship.
Subdued for all but a handful of dazzling moments in a game that had few, Ronaldo mostly failed to provide the spark he has often produced for Real Madrid.
“No games go perfectly,” Ronaldo said. “I’d have liked to have had more possession but it just wasn’t possible.”
That absence of possession as the German defence efficiently closed him down may go some way to explaining Ronaldo’s apparent rage in the final minutes of the match as Portugal battled for an equalizer. Ronaldo set up three chances, but none went in.
Ronaldo prowled down the left flank but often was left rolling his eyes, blowing his cheeks and looking skywards as he was starved of possession.
In the last minute, Ronaldo approached his team bench to ask for water. None of the staff got up to offer him some. Ronaldo shouted in anger, gesticulated and, when he was given a bottle, stood drinking with his hands on his hips, shaking his head.
“Everyone knows the class of Ronaldo,” Germany defender Jerome Boateng said. “You can’t shut him down completely but we did well as a team. I think he had no more than two or three shots at goal.”
Ronaldo has yet to shine on the international stage and, at 27, this could be his last big chance. He came to prominence at Euro 2004, where he began moving into the role occupied by Luis Figo.
Portugal reached the final in that tournament, and made it to the semifinals at the 2006 World Cup, but Ronaldo’s best moments and claim to stardom have come from his time at Manchester United and now Real Madrid.
The Lviv encounter with Germany was one of the most eagerly anticipated matches in the Euro 2012 group stage. Like Ronaldo, it failed to live up to expectations.
To make things worse, longtime Barcelona rival Lionel Messi produced a hat trick Saturday to help Argentina to a 4-3 win over Brazil. Messi has beaten Ronaldo to FIFA’s world player of the year award three years in a row since the Portuguese forward’s 2008 trophy. He also outscored Ronaldo in the Spanish league last season as the pair battled for supremacy.
Portugal needs him to come good as it prepares to meet Denmark and the Netherlands in its last two group games, when it will be playing for a chance of advancing in the competition.
Ronaldo’s the player the rest of the team looks to for goals and inspiration. He was Portugal’s top scorer in its qualifying campaign, with seven goals in eight games, and is the country’s third-highest all-time scorer with 32 goals in 87 appearances.
Now he needs to score some goals in Ukraine.