Martin Dubravka has revealed he closed his eyes and prayed that Cristiano Ronaldo did not catch him in the face during Portugal’s Euro 2024 qualifying victory over Slovakia. Ronaldo was fortunate to avoid a red card for a late lunge on his former Manchester United team-mate.
The Al-Nassr forward made a desperate attempt to beat Dubravka to a loose ball but ended up making a horror challenge on the Newcastle star. He slid on with force and caught the goalkeeper on the shoulder, neck and chest.
A lengthy VAR review surprisingly did not suggest a red card for serious foul play. Ronaldo played the remainder of Portugal’s 1-0 victory which was secured by another of his former United colleagues, Bruno Fernandes.
Dubravka was also able to play on but admits he suffered a couple of injuries in the challenge with Ronaldo. The former Red Devils loanee said all he could do was close his eyes and pray when he saw Ronaldo’s studs hurtling towards him.
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Asked about his injuries, Dubravka said: “In the shoulder, the neck and the chest.
“I just closed my eyes and prayed that he [Ronaldo] wouldn’t hit me in the face as well. When I saw his studs coming at me, I didn’t even look.”
Dubravka, whose loan at Old Trafford in 2022-23 was cut short in January, added that he did not blame Ronaldo. He insisted that the type of tackle is merely part of football.
“These are situations when the goalkeeper closes his eyes and tries only to block the shot, and he, as a striker, has to go after such a ball. I don’t blame him,” he continued.
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“It’s sport, it’s football. Situations like this belong to it.
“Of course, he realised he hit me. He asked me if I was OK. I take it sportingly. I try to keep a clear head in these situations. It is a contact sport. Today, when we have VAR at our disposal. There is no point in getting into it.”
Despite avoiding a red card, Ronaldo will still be suspended for Portugal’s clash with Luxembourg on Monday. That is because his foul on Dubravka earned him his third yellow card of Euro 2024 qualifying, enough to earn a one-match ban.
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