Manchester United was humiliated on its home turf by rival Liverpool in Matchday 9 of the Premier League and its big star, Cristiano Ronaldo, didn’t like it one bit. He was not shy about showing his frustration either.
Just before halftime with the score at 3-0, Liverpool, Ronaldo was involved in a play that probably should have seen him sent off. Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones successfully shielded a ball near the end line and then went down to the ground. While Jones was down, the referee’s whistle sounded indicating a foul by Ronaldo.
But simultaneously to the whistle, Ronaldo went in for a violent kick while the ball was tucked into Jones’s midsection. Ronaldo made contact with the ball, but the impact was also felt by a helpless and defenseless Jones.
With many watching at home expecting to see a red card, referee Anthony Taylor instead showed Ronaldo a yellow card after other Liverpool players confronted Ronaldo in the aftermath of the incident. Jones also stood up immediately to take issue with the 36-year-old Portugal international, who went 90 minutes but only came up with one shot on target. Ronaldo also had a goal disallowed for offside.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was asked about the incident after the match. Surprisingly, he wasn’t advocating for Ronaldo to be disciplined.
“For me it looked like [a red card], but in the end I got told that [Ronaldo] hits the ball or didn’t hear the whistle or whatever,” Klopp said. “That’s fine. I don’t want Cristiano to get a red card. For me it looked like, but I got told that it was not. That’s fine.”
Ronaldo doesn’t exactly have a pristine track record in the red card department. He has seen his fair share of red in his 20-year professional career. According to Transfermarkt, he has been the subject of 11 sendings-off, including seven straight red cards and four for a second yellow card.
Even former Manchester United defender Gary Neville thought Ronaldo was set to receive a red card. Neville was quoted as saying “his head’s gone here” during his commentary of the game for Sky Sports.
Could Ronaldo make the claim that he didn’t hear the whistle in this case? Given that the whistle and his kick occur virtually simultaneously, he might have a case. But the violence with which he attempted to gain possession of the ball — shooting it into the player’s midsection — doesn’t give him the benefit of the doubt with some of the media and fans who reacted to it on social media:
Manchester United’s frustrations would boil over once again in the second half with the score at 5-0 when Paul Pogba made a two-footed lunge into Liverpool’s Naby Keita that earned him a straight red card after the referee consulted with the monitor.
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