Cristiano Ronaldo has found an unlikely ally after his controversial red card.
The Juventus star collapsed dramatically on the pitch after being sent off in his Champions League debut for his new club on Thursday.
Ronaldo burst into tears as he made his way off field, believing he’d done nothing wrong after colliding with Valencia defender Jeison Murillo off the ball.
And according to former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, Ronaldo was correct.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was very unfortunate to be sent off on his Champions League debut for Juventus,” Clattenburg wrote in the Daily Mail.
“With the ball on the left wing, the forward tried to make a run into the penalty area and was blocked off by Jeison Murillo.
“There was a small push from Ronaldo which resulted in the Valencia defender falling to the floor but that was not violent conduct.
“The referee had his back to the incident. It was spotted by the additional assistant, standing behind the goal, who may have thought Ronaldo threw an elbow but that was not the case.”
Ronaldo was clearly frustrated when Murillo fell to the ground, running his hand over the top of his opponent’s head before gesturing for him to get up.
“The contact looked very slight and I cannot see how the additional assistant, standing some 20 yards away, could deem it violent conduct,” Clattenburg said.
“If I had been officiating this game, I would have given Valencia a free-kick and shown a yellow card to each player.
“Ronaldo will serve a one-match ban but anything more would be harsh.”
Ronaldo tipped to bounce back
Coach Massimiliano Allegri is confident that Ronaldo will be back to business in their next Serie S clash against Frosinone, who are second from bottom of the league with one point.
“He was upset and he needs time to calm down. He needs to rise above it and focus on Sunday, even if these things leave a bitter taste in the mouth,” said the coach.
The champions will be without German midfielder Sami Khedira who suffered a thigh muscle injury in Spain.
Douglas Costa also suffered an adductor injury, but the Brazilian would have missed Sunday’s league game as he sits out a four-match ban for spitting last weekend.
“He’s picked up an adductor injury from virtually his first sprint,” said Allegri.
“Unfortunately I was expecting this because the last few days have been draining for him mentally.
“When these things happen, the risk of injury is very high. It was a tactical decision that he would only come on for the last 20 minutes, but that was still enough for him to get injured.”