AL AIN, Qatar – Cristiano Ronaldo was “insulted” by South Korea’s Cho Kook-sung as he left the pitch, according to Fernando Santos, as the Portugal coach sought to justify the striker’s frustrated reaction after being substituted.
Ronaldo walked towards the bench and then put his finger to his mouth in what appeared to be a verbal communication with Joe.
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The 37-year-old appeared unhappy with the decision to substituted him in the 65th minute, but after a 2-1 loss to South Korea to reach the last 16, Santos insisted it was his interactions with Cho that made the ex-United retweet “furious”. .
“The South Korean players insulted him and told him to go away, so that’s why he was angry, everyone saw that,” Santos said.
“I saw the interaction with the Korean players, I don’t have any doubts about it, if you look at the images, you see Pepe walking towards the Korean players.
“He wasn’t aggressive, he was just verbal, he spoke to Cristiano in English and Cristiano said, ‘Maybe he had a bad day.'”
Ronaldo told Portuguese reporters that Joe tried to rush him off the pitch.
“What happened was before I was substituted, the Korean player told me to get off. I told him to shut up because he didn’t have that authority. There was no disagreement. [with the coach]’, quoting Ronaldo.
South Korean midfielder Hwang In-beom had little to say on the matter.
“I didn’t see it, I was so tired,” he said. “I’ve been looking at the ground, so I didn’t see it, I have nothing to say.”
Despite a 91st-minute loss to Hwang Hee-chan, Portugal finished first in Group H, with South Korea beating Uruguay in the knockout round.
Santos’ side will face the second-placed side in Group H – possibly Switzerland, Serbia or Cameroon – but insisted the loss to South Korea should be a “warning call” to his side.
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“We were a little bit upset,” Santos added.
“We are the first in the group, but we want to win and hope to have a better game to improve the morale of the players. But this result is a warning for our team.”
Meanwhile, South Korea will face Brazil after advancing to the second round for the first time since 2010.
They were on their way out until Hwang’s dramatic winner sent them through with a goal ahead of Uruguay, who were out of the World Cup despite beating Ghana 2-0.
“Son Heung-min told me before the game that I’m going to create something today,” Huang said.
“He said, ‘We trust you.’ When I came off the bench, a lot of my teammates said they trusted me. When my son got the ball, I was sure he was going to pass it to me and it was a great pass. My work becomes easier.
“Waiting for another result is difficult, but we showed that we can reach the knockout stage and we have maintained that trust. This is what we want and what we look forward to. I want to share these good feelings with the Korean people at home. “