Cristiano Ronaldo seemed on a goodwill mission Saturday after alienating many with some disrespectful remarks on Iceland after they held his Portugal team 1-1 at Euro 2016.
He took his time to talk to the little boy going out onto the field with him, patting him on the head as well.
After the final whistle of their latest disappointment, a 0-0 draw with Austria, he patiently waited until a visibly nervous fan had managed to take a selfie with him.
The fan had run onto the field and Ronaldo seemed to have talked stewards out of leading him away instantly.
That wasquite extraordinary, given that he had hit a penalty kick against the left post in the 79th minute, had a late header into the net correctly disallowed for offside, and wasted several other big chances, either hitting wide or denied by Austrian goalkeeper Robert Almer.
Nani was also denied by the left post as Portugal were denied despite 23-3 shots on goal.
"That's football. It was something we did not want. We created plenty of opportunities but could not finish. I also failed, with a penalty and on other occasions," Ronaldo said much later.
The Austrian fans chanted Almer's name in the end while there were no such calls for Ronaldo from the Portuguese contingent to he which he waved feebly from the safe distance of the midfield circle amid jeers for the team.
Ronaldo, who firmly believes in his own greatness, must have had other ideas about the match which was his record 128th Portugal cap and record-equalling 16th match at the Euros.
The missed penalty came three weeks after he converted the deciding spot kick in a shoot-out to win the Champions League for Real Madrid against crosstown rivals Atletico.
With two more chances going begging he has now also failed to covert 36 free-kicks in a row, and only converted one of the last five penalties for club and country.
Coach Fernando Santos did not want to say anything about Ronaldo's state of mind in the dressing room, saying only: "I understand the question but won't talk about it."
Almer, who went the wrong way on the penalty, spoke "of very nice moments you enjoy" against Ronaldo and his team-mates who must now beat Hungary on Wednesday to stay alive in the tournament.
There Ronaldo can try again to become the first man to score at four Euro tournaments - and help Portugal avoid another early exit.
But for now he had to live with headlines including "CRZero" from Brazil's Globo.
Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 09:36