Ronaldo lashes out at Iceland celebrations

Saint-Etienne (France), June 15 (IANS) Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has criticised the celebrations by Iceland players following the teams’ 1-1 draw in their Group F match of the Euro Cup football tournament here.

Portugal took the lead through Nani in the 31st minute, but Birkir Bjarnason restored parity for Iceland in the second half at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard here on Tuesday evening. Iceland are appearing in their first ever major tournament, and their players and fans celebrated wildly after the match.

“The way they celebrated at the end was unbelievable. Iceland don’t try to play, they just defend, defend and defend. Then they celebrate like they have won the Euros. This in my opinion shows a small mentality. They are not going to do anything in this competition,” Ronaldo told the media after the match.

“It was a little bit frustrating. We tried hard to win the game, Iceland didn’t try anything. They scored a goal, they created a couple of chances in the 90 minutes but otherwise they got every player behind the ball. They parked a bus in the net. It was a lucky night for them,” the 31-year-old added.

“It is difficult when one team doesn’t even try but Portugal try to play football and we try to win every game. We are 100 per cent confident we will win our next one.”

The Real Madrid star’s comments attracted derision from the rival camp with Iceland defender Kari Arnason ridiculing his attitude. Arnason marked Ronaldo throughout the game and prevented the former Manchester United winger from making too much of an impact on the game.

Ronaldo struggled to outwit the Iceland defence for most of the game and despite having 10 efforts on goal, he only hit the target once.

“It makes it even sweeter when he’s a sore loser like that. I mean, he can say whatever he wants. He didn’t really get a chance today, he got one and he couldn’t put it away. What can I say? Sore loser. Tough s**t,” Arnason said.

“He had a header in the final minutes of the game and a chance in the first half but otherwise I thought we had him under control. We didn’t set up to man mark him or anything, we just had to know where he was at any given moment and that he will shoot from outside the box and that everything has to be blocked,” the 33-year-old central defender added.

“It shows we got under his skin. It was lovely to hear that.”

Arnason also attempted to rile Ronaldo further, asserting that Argentine icon Lionel Messi will always be better than him.

“He’s a fantastic footballer but he’s not a gracious human being and the thing is we almost nicked the win so him saying we weren’t going for the win contradicts that,” he said.

“We got a draw and could have nicked it. Obviously we’re not going to create as much chances as a fantastic team like Portugal but his comments are the reason why Messi is always going to be one step ahead of him.”

Ronaldo’s comments were also criticised by Iceland’s co-manager Heimir Hallgrimsson, who asserted that taking a point off Portugal is comparable to beating mighty Holland in the Euro Cup qualifiers, widely hailed as one of the finest moments in the football history of the tiny island nation.

“This was probably about the same as the win against the Netherlands. So many things are happening for the first time for Icelandic football,” he said.

“This was our first time on this stage and it was fantastic, it was just like playing at home because our fans were unbelievable and that made us feel better when we were tired towards the end. It is another milestone for Icelandic football.”

–IANS

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