Cristiano Ronaldo broke character with a gloriously unusual moment in Portugal’s 3-0 win over Turkey – but expect an inquest after absurd pitch invasions from selfie-hunting fans, writes RIATH AL-SAMARRAI

After all the misses, after all the pouting, and before the arrival of so many pitch invaders, Cristiano Ronaldo broke a record by breaking character.

What an unusual moment it was from this ageing great, whose capacity to spring a surprise at 39 has outlasted his ability to dominate opposition the way he once did.

It came 55 minutes into this Portuguese walk in the park, at 2-0 up, when Ronaldo was clean through and had only a goalkeeper between him and his addiction.

By then, his pursuit had become so singular, so committed to an 896th clip for the reel, that he was shooting on sight. He had even missed the second of Portugal’s goals because he was stropping at a team-mate’s failure to put him clear, not realising that behind his back Turkey were embarking on a calamitous sequence that ended with them putting the ball in their own net.

That’s the Ronaldo we know. The one who has to be the show. The one we are less familiar with is the player who shaped to finish and then squared instead to Bruno Fernandes for a tap in.

Cristiano Ronaldo took the acclaim for assisting Portugal’s third in a 3-0 win over Turkey

Ronaldo, right, passed across the face of goal for Bruno Fernandes to extend their advantage

Ronaldo, right, passed across the face of goal for Bruno Fernandes to extend their advantage

There were farcical scenes as multiple fans invaded the pitch in search of selfies with Ronaldo

There were farcical scenes as multiple fans invaded the pitch in search of selfies with Ronaldo

‘Amazing,’ said Roberto Martinez, his manager, and at once that was stretching things and quite accurate. 

MATCH FACTS

Turkey XI: Bayindir; Kadioglu, Akaydin (Demiral 75), Bardakci, Celik; Calhanoglu, Ayhan (Yuksek 58); Akgun (Guler 70), Kokcu (Yazici 46), Akturcoglu (Yildiz 58); Yilmaz

Subs not used: Yokuslu, Tosun, Kaplan, Ozcan, Muldur, Cakir, Kilicsoy, Yildirim 

Booked: Celik, Akaydin, Bardakci 

Manager: Vincenzo Montella

Portugal XI: Costa; Cancelo (Semedo 68), Pepe (A. Silva 83), Dias, Mendes; (Neves 46), B. Silva, Fernandes, Vitinha (J. Neves 88); Ronaldo, Leao (Neto 46)

Subs not used: Patricio, Dalot, Ramos, Felix, Sa, Pereira, Inacio, Luiz, R. Neves, Jota, Conceicao 

Goals: Silva 21, Akaydin OG 28, Fernandes 55

Booked: Palhinha, Leao 

Manager: Roberto Martinez 

 

This being Ronaldo, that fairly routine act took him onto another page of history, for the most assists in the books of the European Championships, with seven. This being Ronaldo, it was still a bit about him – his team-mates acquiesced to his beckoning and chose to celebrate with the creator and not the finisher.

But then again, it was always going to be about Ronaldo. Always will be. They cheer his name loudest, they take his picture the most. When kids or grown men enter the field of play, they head for him.

And we should talk about that last point – it got absurd here. It started with a child when the score was already at 3-0, with Bernardo Silva and Samet Akaydin’s own goal having preceded Fernandes’s nudge over the line. Ronaldo didn’t mind that one – he posed for a selfie. But then a second guy came on. He got waved away. So did the third.

By the time a fourth made it to him, Ronaldo was furious and rightly so – the stewards here in Dortmund could scarcely have been slower to the issue had they been towing ship anchors. Two more also got within arm’s length after the whistle, so there will be a review of how security was so lapse.

That will be a post-mortem for the tournament to chew over. As for Martinez, his Portuguese side are now sure of winning Group F, just as their place among the favourites for the crown is getting ever stronger.

They waltzed through this game and made a good team look poor. Across its duration, they were ominously comfortable and looked balance in their distribution of strengths in the kind of way England can only dream. Bernardo Silva, Fernandes and Pepe all excelled. Ronaldo, the frontman but not the main man, had a few flourishes too, if nothing compared to what he could once do.

Indeed, there is that ongoing question of whether he holds Portugal back more than he enables, because this is a side that has effectively had to give up the option of pressing the opposition on account of one man. Maybe he adds in other ways, aura ways, but is that sufficient for winning tournaments? A suspicion persists that he will be favoured for the so-called lesser games and left out when the going gets tough, but that will require real bravery from Martinez.

Bernardo Silva scored his first ever goal in a major international tournament to start off

Bernardo Silva scored his first ever goal in a major international tournament to start off 

Turkey gifted Portugal a goal when Samet Akaydin passed beyond onrushing goalkeeper Altay Bayindir into his own net

Turkey gifted Portugal a goal when Samet Akaydin passed beyond onrushing goalkeeper Altay Bayindir into his own net

Fernandes wrapped up the victory in the second half after two Turkey defenders slipped

Fernandes wrapped up the victory in the second half after two Turkey defenders slipped

So far his tweaks have been minor but effective, as was the case here, where he brought in Joao Palhinha for Diogo Dalot and dumped the 3-4-3 that looked so vulnerable against the Czech Republic and replaced it with a far more dynamic 4-2-3-1. The transformation in performance was startling.

Turkey, limited by the loss of Real Madrid’s brilliant teenager Arda Guler, who has been struggling with fitness since his thunderbolt of a goal against Georgia, were facing difficulties from the outset. Naturally, they involved Ronaldo.

Within a minute he attempted a volley from an improbable distance and angle, scuffing the connection, and he also put a header over the bar and ran down two blind alleys. This was shaping into one of those days where you wonder if he tries to be the hero a little too much.

Turkey remain second in Group F and will face Czechia in their final match of this stage

Turkey remain second in Group F and will face Czechia in their final match of this stage

Roberto Martinez's side became the third to have booked their place in the knock-out stages

Roberto Martinez’s side became the third to have booked their place in the knock-out stages

But there were flashes of immense quality, because with him that is a given. The best of them came around quarter of an hour in, when having duffed a cross he gathered the loose ball, threw in two stepovers and dropped Abdulkerim Bardakci flush on his backside. The cross for Rafael Leao was none too shabby either and deserved a better header.

While Ronaldo was on his mission, the more mobile units of this exceptional Portuguese attack were offering sharper edges. As we know, Silva is a gem and here he got the opener. It was Pepe who started the move with a thumping challenge before Nuno Mendes broke the Turkish lines and crossed for Silva to finish.

The second was more eye-catching, both for the mix up that saw Akaydin roll past Manchester United’s stand-in keeper Altay Bayindir, and also Ronaldo’s reaction at a point when he thought the move had broken down. He missed the goal because he was rollicking Joao Cancelo.

Ronaldo’s latest record contributed to the goal for 3-0, before he presumably broke another with his number of dedicated pitch invaders.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk