Updated: Friday, 27 June 2014 05:04 | By Agence France-Presse

Ronaldo bows out of clash of the titans

Cristiano Ronaldo came to the World Cup as part of a holy trinity of world superstars alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar but he is leaving the party early after Portugal crashed out.


Ronaldo bows out of clash of the titans

Portugal's forward and captain Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after the Group G football match between Portugal and Ghana at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 26, 2014 - by Francisco Leong

In bowing out he continues the curse of the Ballon D'Or winner never picking up the World Cup the same year.

Ronaldo, who has had a quiet tournament by his own dizzying standards, finally scored his first goal on Thursday -- the winner against Ghana in Brasilia -- but it was too little too late. 

Portugal -- hammered 4-0 in their opener against Germany -- needed to win handsomely and hope the result in the other Group G fixture between Germany and the United States went their way.

But in the end a 2-1 win was not enough and the two sides playing in Recife went through.

Despite at last breaking his duck in Brazil the Real Madrid star missed a succession of chances that could have given his team the sizeable win they needed to make the last 16.

Towards the end of the match he kicked the air in frustration as yet another attack foundered with his team still clinging to an unlikely dream of qualifying for the knockouts.

Ronaldo, who only last month helped his Spanish club side win a 10th Champions League trophy, cut a disconsolate figure after the game, saying his side had deserved more.

"The match today was a match we tried to win and we did win," said Ronaldo, who was named man of the match.

"We created many opportunities but we could not finish them all," said the 29-year-old, wearing strapping around his right knee and moving gingerly.

"We knew it was complicated but what's left at the end shows that it was possible considering the number of opportunities we created," he added.

"We deserved more but that's how football is. We can hold our heads up high. We tried our best but couldn't do it."

The former Manchester United player has been the focus of much attention about how fit he was with endless speculation over his left knee.

- Centre of attention -

Feted by huge crowds in Brazil -- even when training -- he arrived in Brazil as the alpha male of world football after finally wresting the Ballon d'Or from the hands of his Argentine rival Messi.

But his side, ranked fourth in the world, suffered a disastrous start, demolished 4-0 by Germany in their Group G opener.

Next came a 2-2 draw against the United States, with Ronaldo providing the cross that led to the equaliser in the final seconds -- a goal that kept Portugal in the competition.

And whereas Messi and fellow Barca star Neymar have benefited from strong players around them, Ronaldo has suffered from some sub-par performances from his team-mates.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento refused to pin the blame on his star player, who helped the team reach the semi-finals of Euro 2012, for his misses.

"No, I don't think it's fair,"  said Bento, who prior to the finals signed an extension to his contract taking him up to 2016.

"I don't think we should now make those things individual. We made a set of mistakes in the tournament during three different matches."

Taking responsibility for the failure, Bento said the defeat to Germany had hit his side hard psychologically and left them with a mountain to climb.

He said it was not right to criticise a player who is usually so effective in front of goal for his missed chances in the Estadio Nacional.

Bento acknowledged that Ronaldo had received physical therapy in the run-up to the World Cup but said he was only called in when 100 percent fit.

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