Cristiano Ronaldo has explained that his frustrated response to being substituted in Friday's 2-1 defeat to South Korea was due to the behaviour of an opposing player.
A surprise starter in the first place with Portugal already through to the next round, Ronaldo was substituted shortly after the hour mark with the score at 1-1. He had failed to score before his departure and cameras captured him voice his displeasure as he left the field.
"You're in a f**king hurry to sub me off," Portuguese reports had quoted Ronaldo as saying as he left the pitch.
"What happened was that, before my departure, the player from Korea told me to leave quickly. I told him to shut up," Ronaldo explained afterwards via B24.
"He has no authority, he doesn't have to give an opinion, he would speed up the pace if he were the referee. But there doesn’t have to be controversy, things stay on the pitch.
Asked what Ronaldo's reaction meant and whether there was any rift in the Portugal dressing room, coach Fernando Santos shut down the speculation immediately.
"Cristiano Ronaldo left upset because a Korean player was trying to hurry him off and Pepe even had to intervene," Santos told the press. "I heard what the Korean player was saying. If you see the images, you see Pepe going after the South Korea player because of that."
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Ronaldo remains one goal behind Eusebio in Portugal's all-time World Cup scoring charts, with the 37-year-old sitting on eight goals at the global showpiece compared to Eusebio's nine.
He thought he had matched the record earlier in the World Cup as he wheeled away in celebration during the 2-0 win over Uruguay, claiming to have headed the ball following a cross from teammate Bruno Fernandes. However, adidas' motion sensors in the ball did not register a touch and the goal was given to Fernandes.