It’s been quite the journey for Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup so far.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner made a huge statement with his hat-trick against Spain in Portugal’s opening game.
In the European champions’ second outing versus Morocco, his header was enough to see his side over the line.
However, while he will have seen Monday night’s opponents Iran as his next victims, he actually endured a frustrating 90 minutes.
Alireza Beiranvand saved his penalty and there was a heart-in-mouth moment when VAR threatened to see him sent off for catching Morteza Pouraliganji with his elbow.
It wasn’t just CR7 who struggled against Carlos Queiroz’s side, though, as the former Manchester United assistant coach has Iran very well-drilled.
They were resolute, they persevered, and they almost snatched victory right at the end, only for Mehdi Taremi to lash the ball at the side netting.
THE BUILD-UP TO THE PENALTY.
Ronaldo will not have enjoyed their antics while he was taking a penalty either and while he is used to other teams trying to get in his head – David de Gea did the same thing for Spain – he had to contend with quite a few of Iran’s players trying to put him off.
— thegoalfutbol (@thegoalfutbol) June 26, 2018
One can even be seen walking back over and touching the turf after the referee had dispersed them.
Of course, there are no guarantees that it had an impact on the forward, but it can’t have helped.
In the end, his missed spot-kick did not make too much difference, as Portugal simply needed to avoid defeat to ensure they went through.
Fernando Santos’ side were still frustrated nonetheless, as finishing second to Spain means they now face the much tougher draw of Uruguay in the last-16, whereas La Roja will meet hosts Russia.
It’s well-known that Ronaldo keeps track of his personal records too and he must be plotting how he can catch Harry Kane, who has five goals to his four as the tournament’s leading scorer so far.
No wonder he looked so frustrated at the final whistle.
You can only give credit to Iran, who played within the rules and did their best to make up for the obvious disadvantages that the World Cup’s smaller nations face against global football’s elite.
Will Ronaldo win the Golden Boot? Have your say in the comments.