Ronaldo wins man of match in rough opener
Cristiano Ronaldo showed what made him a world player of the year, and what makes him a problem for Portugal's national team.
FIFA's top player in 2008 hit a goalpost with what would have been one of the goals of the tournament and was chosen man of the match in a Group G 0-0 draw with Ivory Coast. But he also picked up a yellow card Tuesday after losing his cool.
Business as usual for the Real Madrid forward.
Ronaldo's frustration built as it became increasingly apparent he would extend a scoreless streak for his country that started 16 months ago.
After two early fouls against him and a 30-yard strike that bounded off the post, Ronaldo was involved in an altercation with Ivory Coast defender Guy-Roland Demel on the edge of the penalty area in the 21st minute.
The winger complained about the severity of Demel's challenge to referee Jorge Larrionda, who responded by showing both players a yellow card.
Ronaldo, the Portugal captain, was fouled five times, causing coach Carlos Queiroz to question whether his player was protected enough by the referee.
``Ronaldo was the victim of a bad decision,'' Queiroz said. ``But we don't like to see our team penalized with yellow cards and I am sure this will not happen again.''
Queiroz praised Ronaldo for setting an example as captain and for his overall contribution.
FIFA statistics from the match supported the coach's assessment. Ronaldo played the entire match, directed one of his three shots on target, and completed 21 of 35 passes.
Ronaldo, who scored 26 goals for Real Madrid this season but has not scored for Portugal since a 1-0 win over Finland in February 2009, admitted he was frustrated throughout the match.
``Sometimes it is difficult that the referee does not give fouls,'' Ronaldo said. ``It is complicated. I understand they have to protect the most dangerous, the most skillful players. I did nothing and he gave me a yellow card. I do not understand.
``But I don't want to speak about the referees. I respect all decisions.''
On Sunday after Portugal's practice, Ronaldo was optimistic the drought would end soon.
``The goals will come. They'll come naturally,'' Ronaldo said. ``It's like a great player once told me: goals are like ketchup ... you keep on forcing it, then it comes all at once.''
It did not come on Tuesday.