ST ETIENNE (Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo led the complaints as Portugal reacted sulkily to their 1-1 draw with Iceland, blaming their opponents for not coming out to play.
Ronaldo once again faced criticism for poor sportsmanship after disdainfully shrugging off Aron Gunnarsson when the Iceland captain approached him for a shirt exchange at the end of the match.
The triple World Player of the Year gave the most cursory of handshakes before walking off to argue with the referee and was in no mood to congratulate Iceland afterwards.
“As everyone saw, Iceland just kicked the ball forward,” he said. “After they scored the goal, they parked the bus and played anti-football. They didn’t want (to play).
“It’s very complicated when the opponents have all their players behind the ball.”
“We knew it was going to happen and that if we scored the second goal, it would be easy, but it didn’t work out like that.”
“We were better, we created more chances and we could have won. It wasn’t a attractive game because only one team wanted to play. But that’s football, we can’t always win.”
Defender Ricardo Carvalho was also unimpressed with the European championship debutants.
“Iceland are a team who play on the opponents’ mistakes, on winning the second ball, and they ended up getting lucky,” he said.
Meanwhile, defender Pepe was almost inevitably involved in a controversial incident when he clashed with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
He firstly took a theatrical tumble after the two went for the same ball, then lashed out at the Icelandic player with his legs as he fell.
The referee appeared to miss the incident and the Brazilian-born defender famed for his extravagant “simulation” who was sent off in the World Cup against Germany two years ago, avoided a yellow card.
Portugal’s players were left to promise an improvement in their next match against Austria on Saturday.
“It’s another European championship match that Portugal will try to win against a good team,” said Ronaldo. “We have to take our chances, I’m confident than things will go better.”
Substitute Ricardo Quaresma added: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that matters.”
(Reporting by Brian Homewood in Nice; additional reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)