With the pent-up frustration from his recent Juventus woes, Cristiano Ronaldo put in a scintillating performance for Portugal against Lithuania, smashing home a hat-trick and sending an emphatic message to Maurizio Sarri.
Ronaldo, who recently stormed off after being substituted early during Juve’s recent crunch match with rivals AC Milan, was alleged to have called Sarri a ‘son of a whore’ before blazing down the tunnel and into the changing room.
Now, after firing on all cylinders for Portugal, Ronaldo appears to be hitting back in the only way he knows how. The former Real Madrid star reserved a long hug for his manager Fernando Santos, who had publicly supported his talisman in the wake of recent events.
Cristiano Ronaldo saved a long hug for Portugal manager Fernando Santos after his support
Ronaldo showed the world he still means business with a ruthless hat-trick against Lithuania
The performance came in the aftermath of his public snubbing by Maurizio Sarri at Juventus
At the final whistle, Ronaldo could be seen pulling Santos into a lasting, warm embrace as though to thank him for the faith.
Santos had spoken out, despite Sarri’s recent claims that Ronaldo was withdrawn from Juve duty because of injury concerns, and stressed that the 34-year-old was on top of his game and ready to perform.
Santos told RTP: ‘He’s fine. I had no doubt about that, as I said before the match. Other people did, but I didn’t have any doubts.’
No sooner had the match finished, Ronaldo’s sister Katia Aveiro decided to have her say on matters in more cryptic fashion, posting an image of her brother in his Portugal kit onto social media.
Aveiro wanted to hammer home the point Ronaldo is still the main man for both club and country, while taking a snipe at those who believe the football superstar is past his best or finished at top level.
Alongside the image, she wrote: ‘Don’t make fun of dad’s job. And he’s finished! Imagine if he wasn’t. Sisters pride! Now think!’
Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes was also full of praise for his team-mate, who is now up to 98 goals for the reigning European champions.
The captain won a penalty and then converted it to set the ball rolling for his side in Faro
Ronaldo was in his element, destroying his opponent and relishing the limelight for Portugal
The superstar also took time to pose for a selfie with a fan who ran onto the pitch
He also lifted a child off his feet after the young supporter had broken through the barriers
‘What we have is a very motivated Cristiano, who always gives his best,’ Fernandes said. ‘He scored three times, which is normal for him.’
Pizzi, Goncalo Paciencia and Bernardo Silva were also on target alongside Ronaldo’s dazzling trio of strikes.
Portugal can seal second place in Group B if they beat Luxembourg in their final qualifier on Sunday.
Santos felt his side could have scored more than twice in the first half, but was ultimately pleased with the resounding scoreline following last month’s 2-1 loss to Ukraine.
Ronaldo must now bounce back domestically, after his recent substitution against AC Milan
Ronaldo was furious as he was withdrawn for Paulo Dybala, who later scored the match-winner
‘The players stuck to the plan,’ he said. ‘We played very well in the first half, with lots of variety to our game and plenty of control.
‘At the break we could have had more goals. But after scoring the fourth we could afford to rest ready for the next game.
‘We’ll try to beat Luxembourg in the same manner, but we have less than 72 hours to recover so we’ll see.’