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Ronaldo at least deserved an assist

Cristiano Ronaldo did not score in Portugal's 2-0 win over Uruguay. But their first goal wouldn't have happened without him.

In the 54th minute of Portugal’s group-stage game against Uruguay, Bruno Fernandes launched a cross from the left side into the box headed for an open Cristiano Ronaldo. The legendary striker jumped and flicked the ball passed the keeper Sergio Rochet to give Portugal the 1-0 lead. Or did he?

It was easy to think so at the moment, at least. Ronaldo was there, he jumped, and the ball went into the net, as has happened so many times in his career. The official scorer even credited the goal to Ronaldo immediately after it happened, because when it seems like Ronaldo has scored a goal, the world needs to know. But a subsequent replay verified what Ronaldo probably already knew: that he didn’t touch the ball at all and that the goal belonged to Fernandes. And while that is a fair ruling, Ronaldo still needs to be credited with something for this scoring play. Give him the assist!

Even though Fernandes is the only one responsible for actually putting the ball into the net, the goal doesn’t happen without Ronaldo. Without a striker streaking through open space and jumping towards the cross, Rochet would have easily caught what would have otherwise been a harmless shot on goal. But Ronaldo provided the key ingredient by playing the dummy in the air, without which Portugal wouldn’t have scored the go-ahead goal. Would Portugal even have six points without Ronaldo right now?

Fernandes should definitely get the shine for this game, especially since he came so close to scoring the tournament’s first hat trick. And while Ronaldo definitely shouldn’t get the same shine that Lionel Messi is currently getting, he at least deserves a mention in the box score for his contributions to the play. He may not have touched the ball, but that isn’t a goal without him.