Cristiano Ronaldo failed to truly convince during Sunday's Clasico, with Real Madrid eventually succumbing to a 4-3 defeat at the hands of rivals Barcelona.
An early goal by Andres Iniesta put Barca ahead before a Karim Benzema brace appeared to give hosts Real the lead going into half-time. But Lionel Messi would score a record 19th Clasico goal to level things up, with everything still to play for in the second half.
Ronaldo forced Dani Alves into conceding a penalty when he made a sharp cut across the Brazilian, with the wing-back unable to avoid contact with the speedy winger.
Replays suggested the foul may have occurred outside the box, as shown by Football Vines:
Ronaldo penalty incident, outside the box? http://t.co/En2Y3QzknE— Football Vines (@FootballVines) March 23, 2014
Ronaldo didn't hesitate to convert, though, giving Real the lead once more.
Football Vertex shared the action:
Ronaldo's Penalty! As cool as you like... https://t.co/roXFYcOCnW— Football Vertex (@Football_Vertex) March 23, 2014
Real were unable to hold onto their lead, however, as a foul by Sergio Ramos gave the Blaugrana a penalty of their own, which was converted by Messi. Ramos was also red-carded, further complicating matters for the host.
With Barcelona pushing for a late winner, Madrid were no longer able to create many chances, and yet another penalty late in the tie sealed the team's fate.
Angel Di Maria was undoubtedly Real's best player, with a number of timely runs that gave Alves fits. And with a very active Gareth Bale on the other wing, Ronaldo seemed almost lost at times. The first half in particular was not one of Ronaldo's finest displays.
But his goal in the second half gave the team hope it could pull off the win. As shared by Info Cristiano, it would have been enough on any other day:
Real Madrid have lost the 1st league match in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored. #elclasico— InfoCristiano (@InfoCristiano) March 23, 2014
Squawka shared the statistics for the Portuguese winger, confirming it had been an uncharacteristically quiet evening for Ronaldo:
Cristiano Ronaldo's El Clasico in numbers: 1 goal, 3 shots, 18 passes completed (78%), 5 take-ons completed out of 9. pic.twitter.com/GIMgehg02B— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 23, 2014
Bundesliga expert Clark Whitney was convinced his performance wasn't out of the ordinary, given the circumstances:
Also am satisfied with even more empirical evidence showing that Ronaldo rarely decides the most important matches... and often goes missing— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) March 23, 2014
Busby MUFC was equally unimpressed:
Quality match! Ronaldo subdued. I reckon a draw would've been fair.— Busby MUFC (@BusbyMUFC) March 23, 2014
This fan still believes in the Portuguese superstar, however:
Ronaldo is still the best player in the world 💯 👌— gavin (@_gavlee7) March 23, 2014
As for the man himself, he wasn't too satisfied with the performance of the officials, with the red card for Ramos perhaps the deciding factor in this match (via WeAreMadrid10):
Cristiano Ronaldo: "We played against 12 men." #HalaMadrid— WeAreMadrid10 (@WeAreMadrid10) March 23, 2014
Football Vines, meanwhile, couldn't help but take one last shot at the star winger:
Messi walking up to Ronaldo after the game https://t.co/rxaSuP46iV— Football Vines (@FootballVines) March 23, 2014
With the loss, Real now share the top spot on the La Liga table with City-rivals Atletico Madrid while the gap with Barcelona is reduced to a single point.
And with the title race now wide open, Ronaldo and his teammates will face a difficult trip to Sevilla next week.