Viewers of tonight’s clash between Portugal and Iran have taken to social media in their droves to discuss a controversial moment involving Cristiano Ronaldo, in which the Real Madrid superstar was handed a yellow card, following VAR consultation.
The two sides went head to head at the Mordovia Arena in their final Group B fixture, with Spain and Morocco having faced off in the group’s other final clash tonight.
Everything was still to play for, as Morocco were the only side who could not advance to the last-16.
A hectic evening in Russia eventually saw Portugal escape with a 1-1 draw, though things could easily have been so different.
Ricardo Quaresma opened the scoring shortly before the interval with a moment of individual brilliance, as the European champions looked to be in complete control of proceedings:
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 25, 2018
However, a high-octane and controversy-filled second 45 minutes so nearly saw Portugal crash out.
First, Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded a penalty-kick following VAR consultation by referee Enrique Caceres in the 53rd-minute, but Ronaldo’s ensuing spot-kick was saved by Alireza Beiranvand in the Iran goal.
A number of crunching tackles then saw referee Caceres put under huge pressure from both sets of players to continually check his decisions with VAR, setting the scene for a tense final 15 minutes.
As such, when Morteza Pouraliganji went to ground off the ball following a challenge with Cristiano Ronaldo in the 83rd-minute, Iran’s players and staff immediately pleaded with Caceres to once again make use of VAR.
The official subsequently did, before deeming Ronaldo’s coming together with Pouraliganji as being worthy of a yellow card.
And, despite Iran having incredibly had the chance to snatch all 3 points and eliminate their illustrious opponents after Karim Ansarifard’s superb injury-time penalty was so nearly added to by Mehdi Taremi in the 95th-minute, much of the discussion in the clash’s aftermath has since surrounded the decision not to send off Ronaldo.
Viewers have been engaged in heavy debate across social media, with some of the opinion that there was nowhere near enough contact made for Ronaldo to be given his marching orders, and others adamant that the veteran lashed out at the face of Pouraliganji and should have seen red for violent conduct:
That’s enough. VAR is an overrated mess. That’s a red all day long for Ronaldo.
— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) June 25, 2018
VAR for Ronaldo. Never a red. Fair play ref. A lesser ref would have given the red for the fame = Oliver, Clattenburg
— The United Stand (@UnitedStandMUFC) June 25, 2018
If it’s any other player than Ronaldo it’s red card.
— Dan Madesclaire (@G2apEX) June 25, 2018
Is it just me? Ronaldo didn’t do anything, why are people calling for a red?
— Major League Shocker (@MLShocker) June 25, 2018
Ok, bad use of VAR there on Ronaldo… that’s a Red card. Star power wins again #POR
— Stu Holden (@stuholden) June 25, 2018
Never ever a red card for Ronaldo!!
Well played VAR! But VAR in the Spain game should have produced 2 red cards! One for both sides.
— Don Hutchison (@donhutch4) June 25, 2018
So when you are famous enough, even VAR cannot convict you of a clear red card offence. Ronaldo is a lucky boy #WorldCup
— Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer) June 25, 2018
Lots calling for a red for Ronaldo, but I think it was clumsy more than malicious… Yellow seemed right to me.
— Joe Crann (@YesWeCrann) June 25, 2018
Ronaldo punches and elbows the player off the ball. Yellow card. Lmao if that isn’t a red…
— Josip 🎗 (@jperkovic93) June 25, 2018
Brilliant refereeing use of VAR, to check Ronaldo swinging arm.
Was checking for possible red card but a yellow card absolutely the right decision.
— Simon Clare (@SiClare) June 25, 2018
Should Cristiano Ronaldo have been sent off vs Iran?
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) June 25, 2018