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Gary Neville rips into Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal romp to World Cup win without him

Portugal confirmed they didn’t need their star man as they produced a sensational performance to beat Switzerland 6-1.

Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for Portugal© Getty Images

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Gary Neville didn't hold back in his criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portugal national team captain and all-time record goal scorer was dropped for the World Cup last-16 tie against Switzerland.

Portugal confirmed they didn't need their star man after serving up a sensational performance to beat Switzerland 6-1 to set-up a quarter-final against Morocco, with Ronaldo's misery compounded as his youthful replacement scored a stunning hat-trick.

The 37-year-old left Manchester United last month under a cloud and has cast a shadow over Fernando Santos' side during their time in Qatar, too.

Neville has been critical of Ronaldo's behaviour before his contract was terminated by Manchester United last month and he was highly critical again his role as an ITV pundit in Qatar.

"Well what happened at United, the suggestion was, it was because (Erik) Ten Hag was trying to make a move on him, he's trying to establish his authority," began Manchester United legend Neville.

"This is a manager (Santo) who's got an unbelievable relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo for eight years.

"And there are a lot of fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who aren't willing to tell him the truth. I think he does need to listen to the truth, that it's becoming a little bit of a scruffy end.

"The petulance, the stomping around, the sulking it's got to stop because it doesn't reflect well on him at all.

Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick for Portugal© PA

"His long-term legacy is set, he's protected. He's one of the great all-time players but in the short term, he's got to do a lot better, because is the Juventus manager wrong?

"The Manchester United manager wrong? And now is the Portugal manager wrong? There's three of them that now have done the same thing with him."

Neville went on to suggest Ronaldo deserves credit for showing good body language on the Portugal bench, despite his latest fall from grace.

"It could have gone badly wrong for the Portugal coach, but it was a superb performance from his team," he added.

"He took a big chance to leave out Cristiano Ronaldo and it has paid off. That was a big call.

"One thing I would say about Ronaldo. There was a picture doing the round on social media looking like he was miserable on the bench, but he was celebrating on the goals.

"I have had a go at him for being miserable, but he was happy when the Portugal goals were going in."

There were deafening cheers from the Portugal fans when Ronaldo's face was shown on the big screen during the national anthems but he had to take his place among the substitutes instead of lining up for kick-off at Lusail Stadium.

Ronaldo belatedly made a late appearance in the game when his side were already 5-1 up, with the huge cheer from the fans in Qatar little consolation for his misery.


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