Bitter Ronaldo slams referee's performance

July 6, 2006

A heartbroken Cristiano Ronaldo launched a stinging attack on referee Jorge Larrionda after Portugal crashed out of the World Cup semi-finals courtesy of a 1-0 defeat by France.

Cristiano Ronaldo
GettyImages / BenRadfordCristiano Ronaldo is in tears at the end of the match

Zinedine Zidane netted the game's only goal in the 33rd minute when he neatly stroked a penalty past Ricardo.

Larrionda's decision to point to the spot after Ricardo Carvalho had felled Thierry Henry in the penalty area was not hotly contested. But Ronaldo slammed the referee for not paying Portugal enough respect.

'We played well and did our best but the referee didn't help us,' the 21-year-old Manchester United forward said. 'Everyone who saw the match could see that the referee wasn't fair.

'He should have shown yellow cards but he did not because Portugal is a small country. We just have to carry on working and then we will be a big country.'

Ronaldo impressed the sell-out crowd of 66,000 fans with a flurry of energetic runs as well as several superb passes.

He almost set up a late equaliser when Fabien Barthez failed to control a powerful 25-yard free-kick - only for Luis Figo to nod over the rebound from point-blank range.

'Portugal showed that they can play good football,' he moaned. 'France were no better than we were. They got a penalty but not much else.

'We are disappointed not to reach the final after such a match. We really wanted to go through but didn't make it. It is the end of our dream. But we have to congratulate France.'

Ronaldo was greeted by a thunderstorm of catcalls every time he touched the ball but he insisted the harassment only made him stronger.

'I was pleased about being booed,' he said. 'I am a dangerous player. And maybe the French fans were upset to see a dangerous player. I am not worried at all.'

With France moving on to play Italy in Berlin on Sunday, Portugal now clash with tournament hosts Germany in the third-place match in Stuttgart on Saturday.

And Ronaldo hopes to close out the tournament on a positive note.

'We think of the next game now and hopefully we can win it,' a tearful Ronaldo concluded.