Fernandes steps out of Ronaldo’s shadow

Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes has long played second fiddle to team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, but on Monday he stepped out of the superstar’s shadow by scoring two goals to lead his side past Uruguay and into the knockout stages of the world Cup.

The 28-year-old’s career is inextricably linked to Ronaldo, having played for Sporting, the club where his Portuguese captain began his illustrious career before moving on to bigger things.

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He then moved to Manchester United in 2020, another club where CR7 had left his mark in the past. Having become a key player for the England side, the Fernandes then saw Ronaldo return last year to monopolize the limelight again.

Fernandes doesn’t possess the speed, power or prowess of CR7, but he did what was necessary to put Portugal through in a game where Ronaldo failed to get on the scoresheet.

Fernandes’ whipping cross flew over Ronaldo’s head and into the back of the net even though his more famous team-mate claimed the goal for himself first.

He then added another with a second stoppage time penalty before shaking the post seconds later in his hat-trick attempt.

The biggest cheers throughout the match were reserved almost exclusively for Ronaldo by the fans at the 88,000 capacity Lusail Stadium.

Fernandes, however, left the pitch a happy man, knowing that on the biggest of international stages there were now two big names in the Portuguese squad.

Whether at Sporting or United, Fernandes has been condemned to play a supporting role for Ronaldo despite being one of the most successful midfielders in Europe.

After Manchester United abruptly ended Ronaldo’s second stint at Old Trafford following his scathing criticism of the club, Fernandes refused to take sides.

“It was a dream come true to play with Cristiano… but nothing lasts forever,” he said at the time with a video of their icy encounter at the Portugal team base before the Cup of the world quickly goes viral.

Playing in his second World Cup, against Ronaldo’s fifth, Fernandes hopes it will also be Portugal’s most successful.

Meanwhile, Fernandes said he believed Cristiano Ronaldo had scored Portugal’s opener even though he was credited with the goal.

“I celebrated like it was Cristiano’s goal, it looked like he touched the ball, my goal was to cross the ball for him,” Fernandes said.

“What’s important is that we were able to get through to the next round and (secure) a very important victory against a very tough opponent.”

Fernandes warned that Portugal should be at their best in their final group game against South Korea on Friday, with a point enough to guarantee them top spot in Group H.

“We know we will find a very organized team ahead of us with a huge skill set, as we have seen in their last games,” added Fernandes.

“We played at different times and that allowed us to see South Korea play. Our goal is to win every game, and we have one ahead of us.”

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