It was a bizarre side at the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday when the national anthems of Portugal and Switzerland were being sung before their FIFA World Cup Round of 16 clash. Photographers covering the match turned away from the pitch and focused on the bench where Cristiano Ronaldo was seated. Coach Fernando Santos benched the 37-year-old – making it the first time he has been benched for Portugal in a major tournament.

Ronaldo has been under the spotlight for his refusal to start from the bench for Manchester United, his former club. On one occasion when United were playing Tottenham Hotspur, Ronaldo walked away from the bench when coach Erik Ten Hag asked him to enter the match in the 90th minute. Following this incident, the Portuguese star was suspended from the squad.

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As a result, today’s start from the bench drew a lot of attention on social media. Many football lovers on social media ridiculed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. 

One fan spotted the obvious similarity in approach between Erik Ten Hag and Fernando Santos. The joke that it is not the manager but Ronaldo’s slow movement as a forward that causes him to be benched was not difficult to notice. 

Fernando Santos, however, got his tactics spot on as Ronaldo’s replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hattrick as Portugal led 5-1 at the 66th minute. He became the first player in the FIFA World Cup 2022 to score a hattrick. Portugal looked better without the 37-year-old in the team and the meme below summed it up well.

Following the incidents at Manchester United, Ronaldo gave an explosive interview with British talk-show host Piers Morgan. He criticised United manager Erik Ten Hag for disrespecting him and said that he also does not have respect for the Dutch manager.

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Football lovers on social media joked that Ronaldo will now call Piers Morgan again to complain against Santos. Piers Morgan started trending on Twitter soon after.