Cristiano Ronaldo's first half was nearly perfect.
But after scoring two first-half penalties to give Real Madrid a 2-0 advantage (5-0 on aggregate) over Atletico Madrid in Tuesday's Copa del Rey semifinal match, the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or winner was struck on the head with a lighter thrown from the stands, according to AS.com's Twitter feed:
Ronaldo has just been hit in the head by a lighter, thrown by a supporter.— AS English (@English_AS) February 11, 2014
Here's a look at the incident:
Ronaldo gets hit with an object while walking off the pitch at half-time. Disgraceful - http://t.co/Y5yui5gRYD— BC (@BradleyCromack) February 11, 2014
Ronaldo fell down after being hit, but he was able to get up and ultimately returned to start the second half, seemingly feeling no ill-effects from the hit. Not only did he score both penalties, sealing elimination for Atletico Madrid, but he also had an 85 percent distribution rate, as per WhoScored.com, and was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti talked about his performance, via Real Madrid's Twitter feed:
Ronaldo's transcendent play would frustrate any opposing fan, but it doesn't justify the disgraceful move from the fan at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
One onlooker expressed his disgust:
Absolutely hate people who go to football games and throw objects at players. Absolute disgrace of a football fan threw a lighter at Ronaldo— Declan McQuillan (@Declan_505x) February 11, 2014
This, of course, is the most recent in a string of fan-player incidents during the past week.
On Saturday, Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart shoved a fan in the crowd, resulting in a three-game suspension. On the same day, Oregon basketball coach Brian Fish said he was spit on by an Arizona State fan, as per OregonLive.
Unfortunately, these type of interactions have become not-so-rare in the sports world, and in football—where fans have a reputation for being rowdy—they are even more common.
It's positive news that Ronaldo wasn't hurt, but hopefully more measures are taken in the future to cut down on instances like this and encourage player safety.
Ronaldo—who played just 31 minutes in the second half but looked completely healthy—and Real Madrid will likely face Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final. The Catalans hold a 2-0 aggregate advantage over Real Sociedad heading into Wednesday's second leg of the semifinal.
With Real Madrid and Barcelona making up one of the most heated rivalries in the world—and setting the stage for some potentially rambunctious fan activity—we can only hope for added security in the final.