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You Can’t Keep A Great Player Down: The Fall & Rise Of Ronaldo

June 22, 2016

- Grant Whittington

In the first two games of Euro 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo cut a forlorn and almost unrecognisable figure from the man that has plundered more than 50 club goals for the last six consecutive seasons. After a frustrating night against Iceland (when the Portuguese offended an entire nation) and a missed penalty in the goalless draw with Austria, Ronaldo’s reputation on the biggest stage and Portugal’s involvement in the tournament both hung in the balance.

Ronaldo’s return to Form and what it means for Portugal

Ninety minutes is a long time in international football, however, and the mercurial Ronaldo proved this during the pulsating 3-3 with Hungary in Lyon. After another frustrating 40 minutes, Portugal’s talisman sprung into life with a perfectly-weighted through-ball for Nani to equalise Zoltan Gera’s shock opener. Within 15 minutes of the second half Ronaldo also had his first two goals of the tournament, scoring with a neat back-heel and a powerful header to rescue Portugal from deficits of 2-1 and 3-2 respectively.

Ronaldo’s heroics looked to have booked a second-place finish in Group F and a game against misfiring England in the second round. This was until Iceland scored a last-gasp winner against Austria, however, which relegated Portugal to third place and saw the Portuguese qualify by the skin of their teeth. So while Ronaldo’s return to form has maintained their presence in the finals, Iceland’s late show has condemned Portugal to a second round clash against either world champions Germany or tournament dark horses Croatia.

Why you can’t keep a great player down

This is for another day, however, but for now it is enough to reflect on Ronaldo’s redemption as an international star. He is now the first man to score in four European finals, for example, while his goals against Hungary underlined his drive, determination and ability to persist in the face of immense criticism.

Make no mistake; the fact that Ronaldo came to the Euro 2016 party late has hurt Portugal, and condemned them to a knockout adventure that may end before it has really begun. Without his presence in Lyon, however, they would most probably have been eliminated after falling behind to a spirited Hungarian side on three separate occasions.

Not only that, but you can bet your life that Germany and Croatia will be wary at the prospect of facing Ronaldo in the last-16.

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