Cristiano Ronaldo never learns

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The stage was set.

Lionel Messi had seen his own World Cup dreams in tatters after an under-par Argentina side were deservedly knocked out by France.

Enter Cristiano Ronaldo to finally claim his place atop world football, no arguments.

In his way were a dogged Uruguay side, but certainly one who didn’t have the flair of Portugal, nor were unbeatable.

His time had finally come.

At least that was the narrative leading into the match.

What we saw during it was nothing to write home about from either Ronaldo’s or Portugal’s point of view.

Pepe’s towering equaliser aside, the Portuguese weren’t in this game for long periods.

When the team were looking to their captain for either inspiration or to produce the goods as he so often does, he was nowhere to be seen.

Not for him getting involved at the coal face and putting in a shift. Compare his work rate on the night to that of Luis Suarez.

Ronaldo strutted around as he is prone to do, waiting for the crowd-pleasing moment to arrive, but it never came.

A free-kick in the second half was more notable for the way in which he positioned himself, shorts pulled right up, than the effort itself.

A late chance to bury a second equaliser ended with the ball spinning towards the corner flag.

Like it or not, when the latter stages of the big tournaments come around, Ronaldo has to make it all about him.

Saturday night was precisely not the time to do it, because the team needed him – and he couldn’t deliver.

Just as he was unable to against Iran, missing the penalty that meant they would face Uruguay in the first place.

By all means grab as much of the limelight as you want when your performance deserves it. His game against Spain in Portugal’s group opener was out of this world, and he was rightly lauded.

But there’s a time and a place for the posturing and the nifty stepovers, and it’s not in a World Cup Round of 16 when your team is up against it and needing a captain’s performance.

Unfortunately, Ronaldo will never learn because the need to be front and centre at all times is arguably one of the major things that drives him on.

Were he less individual on the night, Portugal offered enough at times to at least take the game beyond 90 minutes.

That it wasn’t to be is a harsh lesson learned, particularly if this was to be his last World Cup tournament.

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