AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Cristiano Ronaldo was “insulted” by South Korean player Cho Gue-sung as he left the pitch, according to Fernando Santos, as the Portuguese coach tried to defend the forward’s frustrated reaction to his substitution.
Ronaldo appeared to be having a verbal exchange with Cho as he walked to the benches and then put his finger to his mouth.
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The 37-year-old looked unhappy at the decision to see him sent off in the 65th minute, but after the 2-1 defeat that sent South Korea through to the last 16, Santos insisted it was his interaction with Cho that made the difference former Manchester United had made forward “angry”.
“The Korean player insulted him and told him to leave, so he was angry, everyone saw that,” said Santos.
“I saw the interaction with the Korean player and I have no doubts about it and when you see the pictures you can see Pepe approaching the Korean player.
“He wasn’t aggressive, he was just verbally aggressive, he spoke to Cristiano in English, and Cristiano said, ‘Maybe he was having a bad day.'”
Ronaldo told Portuguese reporters that Cho tried to force him off the pitch.
“What happened was before I was substituted, the South Korean player told me to fold quickly. I told him to shut up as he doesn’t have that authority. There was no disagreement [with the coach]’ Ronaldo was quoted as saying.
South Korean midfielder Hwang In-Beom said little about the incident.
“I didn’t see it, I was too tired,” he said. “I was looking at the ground, so I didn’t see it and I have nothing to say.”
Portugal still finished Group H at the top despite conceding a 91st-minute winner against Hwang Hee-chan as South Korea edged Uruguay out by a spot in the knockout rounds.
Santos’ side meet Group H runners-up – likely Switzerland, Serbia or Cameroon – but he insisted the defeat by South Korea should serve as a ‘warning’ for his side.
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“We’re a little upset,” added Santos.
“We’re top of the group but we wanted to win and make a better game to boost player morale. But this result is a warning to our team.”
Meanwhile, South Korea meet Brazil after qualifying for the second round for the first time since 2010.
They made their way to Hwang’s dramatic winner which saw goals qualify them ahead of Uruguay, who are eliminated from the World Cup despite a 2-0 win over Ghana.
“Before the game, Son Heung-min told me I would do something today,” said Hwang.
“He said, ‘We trust you.’ When I came on, a lot of my team-mates also told me they trusted me. When Son got the ball, I felt like he was right for me and it was an excellent pass. That made my job easier.
“It was difficult waiting for the other result but we proved we could make it to the knockout stages and we kept that confidence. It’s something we wanted and we expected . I want to share these great feelings with the Korean people at home.”
https://www.espn.com/soccer/portugal-por/story/4823462/cristiano-ronaldo-insulted-by-south-korea-player-during-substitution-portugal-coach Ronaldo ‘insulted’ by South Korea player