Even the most ardent of Ronaldo critics would struggle to argue that the Portugal captain’s last-gasp goal, finished at a tight angle by the Juventus superstar with full-time rapidly approaching, should have been chalked off.
Serbia, who had overcome being 2-0 down at half-time to two goals by Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, seemed certain to miss out on a point after the ball was cleared when it was clearly well beyond the goalline and about to nestle in the net.
Cristiano Ronaldo with pretty much the last kick of the game thinks he’s scored but officials say it didn’t cross the line 👀🤫 Ronaldo walks off the pitch in disgust throwing his captain’s armband down on the pitch 😂😂 Finishes an entertaining 2-2 draw in Belgrade! #SRBPOR#WCQpic.twitter.com/l6qvwNTMV0
— Matt White (@Matt_CAFC) March 27, 2021
In one of the most absurd decisions ever seen on the international stage, the assistant referee did not flag that the ball had crossed the line – causing an astonished Ronaldo to race over and protest wildly to the official on the byline.
Ronaldo was booked for his troubles as part of a closing sequence that had also seen Serbia’s Nikola Milenkovic dismissed before shambolic scenes that spread as swiftly as wildfire on social media.
The understandably irate talisman could be seen vigorously shaking his head in disbelief at the end, throwing his skipper’s symbol to the ground after being denied the chance to move a step closer to Ali Daei’s all-time record of 109 international goals.
“Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo have been robbed and are absolutely fuming, and rightfully so,” wrote one account.
Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo have been robbed and are absolutely fuming, rightfully so. Ronaldo scored the winner in the 93rd minute, only for the linesman to say it didn’t cross the line when it clearly did.Pathetic officiating and makes you wonder, why is there no VAR?
— EiF (@EiFSoccer) March 27, 2021
“Ronaldo scored the winner in the 93rd minute, only for the linesman to say it didn’t cross the line when it clearly did. Pathetic officiating and makes you wonder, why is there no VAR?”
Another said: “Portugal were robbed of a win. Wowsers. Cristiano Ronaldo has every reason for being upset. I don’t blame him.”
Ronaldo has now scored once in his last seven appearances for his country, with a goal against minnows Andorra his only strike in more than six months.
The 35-year-old has gone almost ten hours with hitting the net internationally, making his run of 16 goals in nine matches in 2019 and 2020 seem a distant memory.
“Why did we let Serbia tie the game? I have no explanation, I can’t find an explanation,” conceded Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
“We had studied Serbia: we knew what they could do, as they did in the first half, but that they could also change. I warned my players about that.”