'Ronaldo is allowed an off day' - Fonte defends Portugal superstar amid VAR storm

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The Real Madrid forward missed a penalty and escaped a red card in his last outing, with World Cup progress secured on another controversial evening

Cristiano Ronaldo has offered enough to the Portugal cause down the years that he is “allowed an off day”, says Jose Fonte, but VAR continues to bemuse and frustrate those at World Cup 2018.

The introduction of technology into top-level football has been welcomed by many, but teething problems have yet to be ironed out and match officials are still coming to terms with the system.

Portugal discovered that again in their latest outing, with an eventful clash with Iran seeing them play out an action-packed 1-1 draw to book their place in the last 16.

Ronaldo was the beneficiary of outside interference at one stage, as he won a second-half penalty, but the Real Madrid superstar saw his effort saved and Ricardo Quaresma’s stunning opener cancelled out by a contentious stoppage-time spot kick from Karim Ansarifard after Cedric was adjudged to have handled inside the box.

Fonte said of his captain’s struggles, which also saw him avoid a red card for an alleged elbow on Morteza Pouraliganji: “We had an opportunity to make it 2-0, close the game out and we did not manage to score.

“Ronaldo scores for us so many times, so it is no problem - he is allowed an off day. He will get one in the next game.

“In the end, we managed to qualify, which is always the main objective, and after that we will see what comes.”

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, a Portuguese native, was less than impressed by the decisions which went against his side on Monday, but Fonte was just as scathing in his assessment of VAR and the impact it has made on a tournament littered with penalties and breaks in play.

The former Southampton and West Ham defender said: “This World Cup is just crazy! We are not happy with the situation, the constant stopping the game, the controversy all the time.

“To end the game like that is just not fair. This VAR system is not my thing. Cedric is furious. In our opinion, he is not even looking at the ball. It is impossible to not have your arms raised in that position. How can you jump with both arms next to your body, it is impossible. The ball did not even change trajectory.

“In the end, we could have almost lost the game - VAR is unacceptable.”

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Portugal’s reward for battling their way through Group B is a second round clash with much-fancied Uruguay – who won all three of their games en route to topping Group A.

Fonte is aware of the size of the challenge facing the Euro 2016 winners, but is ready to embrace it.

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He said: “We have to face whoever we face. We will just take it as it comes.

“We are happy, how many teams have gone home? We are through and that is the main thing.

“We are not happy with how it went down in the last few minutes, but we were controlling the game, playing the ball out from the back, being patient, creating chances. In the end, we got done by a dubious decision and we have to move on. Sometimes you just don’t get the rub of the green.”

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