Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream of leaving France this week with a Euro 2016 winner’s medal is done.
Portugal’s captain was taken off before halftime of Sunday’s final after suffering a hard knock to the knee by French midfielder Dimitri Payet.
Although it doesn’t look like much of a hit on Ronaldo, watching the challenge in real time is brutal. Completely out-of-control despite trying to slow down his momentum, Payet ran Ronaldo over. And only in the seventh minute of the match!
Desperate to compete and lead his nation to their first major international trophy, Ronaldo received treatment on his knee and tried to play through the pain. Essentially playing on one leg, Ronaldo dribbled once with clear difficulty before calling it quits and summoning the stretcher.
At the Stade de France just north of Paris, France’s home fans hissed and whistled as Ronaldo’s injury repeatedly stopped the game ― one that France started out sharply, pressuring the Portuguese defense from the first whistle.
Sitting on the ground in despair, Ronaldo let the tears flow ― perhaps partly in pain from the injury, and partly in pain from the devastating feeling of leaving a final. The superstar forward was under pressure to play well and make amends for Portugal’s upset loss to Greece at the Euro 2004 final on home soil.
Sadly for Ronaldo, the dream of leading Portugal on the pitch to their first trophy will have to wait until the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
UPDATE: (5:44 p.m.) Without Ronaldo, Portugal actually beat France in extra time 1-0 to win the Euro 2016. Watching from the sidelines, Ronaldo was overjoyed.
Once again, there were tears: