Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi exit from World Cup without titles
Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t carry the team by himself this time.
The five-time player of the year, who scored four goals in his opening two matches at the World Cup, was eliminated from the tournament Saturday after Portugal lost to Uruguay, 2-1, in the round of 16.
“We gave our best,” Ronaldo said. “The team played well. As the team captain, I am proud of this group.”
Portugal won the 2016 European Championship and came to Russia with high expectations following the surprise title in France two years ago, its first in a major tournament. Ronaldo started off this year’s tournament with a hat trick against Spain and added another goal against Morocco.
But on Saturday, it was Edinson Cavani who scored twice to earn victory for the Uruguayans.
“No team can win with one player alone,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “He tried. The team didn’t win because Uruguay scored twice.”
Portugal hasn’t reached the World Cup quarterfinals since 2006, when a young Ronaldo led the team to the semifinals. Back then, Portugal lost to France and finished fourth after losing to Germany in the consolation game.
Ronaldo, 33 and still playing some of his best soccer, failed to provide the spark Portugal needed against Uruguay.
Ronaldo’s great start in Russia allowed him to surpass the combined total of three goals he had scored in his previous three World Cups. He also joined Pele, Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler as the only players to score in four World Cups.
France 4, Argentina 3 — What Lionel Messi never has done, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe did twice.
The quick-footed French teenager scored two goals in a five-minute span of the second half to help his team rally for a victory over Argentina. Saturday’s victory gave France a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Messi, who turned 31 during his fourth and possibly final World Cup, set up a pair of goals but again failed to score in a knockout match at the biggest event in soccer.
Mbappe was a constant threat to Argentina’s creaking defense with his speed and skill and was at the heart of France’s often-breathtaking display, particularly in the middle of the second half.
He became the second teenager to score multiple goals in a knockout match at the World Cup. Pele was the other, doing it twice at 17 at the 1958 tournament in Sweden.