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Euro 2020 elimination caps lackluster season for Cristiano Ronaldo


Cristiano Ronaldo was slowly leaving the field when Romelu Lulaca approached him to hug him.

They embraced for a few moments, and Lukaku spoke directly into the ear of the Portuguese great. Ronaldo thanked him politely, but quickly returned to the tunnel.

He was in no mood to chat.

While Lukaku was advancing to the European Championship quarterfinals with Belgium, Ronaldo was heading home after the disappointing end of his tournament – and for his season.

There was no repeated European title. There was no world record. And there probably won’t be a Player of the Year award either.

Ronaldo, 36, ended a lackluster season with Portugal’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium in the round of 16 at Euro 2020 on Sunday.

Despite scoring over 40 goals for his club and for his country, his record was far from impressive by his standards. He failed to win the Italian championship with Juventus, where his future remains uncertain as his contract expires next year. His only titles in 2021 are Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup.

However, Ronaldo got off to a great start in Euro 2020, scoring five goals in his first three matches and catching up with former Iranian striker Ali Daei, the all-time men’s top scorer with 109 goals.

If he kept scoring and if Portugal continued to strive for another title, he could be the player of the year again.

That did not happen.

Ronaldo threw his captain’s armband to the ground after the final whistle against Belgium, and then one of the first to leave.

Portugal had several chances throughout the match at La Cartuja stadium in Seville, but Ronaldo himself did not pose much of a threat. He had several free kicks in each half and with a throw from inside the court towards the end of the match.

Ronaldo was supported by a talented Portuguese team that included Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandez and Diogo Jota. But they also failed offensively on Sunday, and Thorgan Hazard’s first-half goal was enough to send Belgium to the quarterfinals.

Portugal lost at the same stage of the 2018 World Cup, two years after winning their first major title at Euro 2016. Another triumph for the team was the victory in the first League of Nations in 2019.

“This is a big disappointment for us because we believed that we could win, just like in 2016,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.

“But there is something to count on. We also dropped out in 2018, but then won the League of Nations in 2019. Now we will try to win the world championship (in 2022). ”

By then, Ronaldo will be 37, and most likely he will already break the international record for scoring.

For now, he can still take comfort in the fact that he has a chance to become the top scorer of Euro 2020. He remains the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, one more than Patrick Schick of the Czech Republic, who advanced to the quarterfinals.



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