Cristiano Ronaldo could miss both Champions League matches against Manchester United after being sent off on his debut in the competition for Juventus.
The 33-year-old was dismissed during the first half of Wednesday night’s Group H opener in Valencia following an off-the-ball clash with Jeison Murillo and had to be led away from the field in tears.
Ronaldo now faces an expected two-match ban for violent conduct, which would rule him out of the home game against Young Boys and the trip to Old Trafford on October 23. A three-game suspension – UEFA will determine the length of the ban – would also keep him out of the return against United in Turin on November 7.
Ronaldo flicked his boot at Murillo as they tangled entering the penalty area in the 29th minute and the defender fell to the floor. The Portugal forward then appeared to pull Murillo’s hair in an attempt to lift him off the ground and the Valencia players immediately protested to the fifth official behind the goal.
Referee Felix Brych consulted with his colleague before producing the red card for Ronaldo, who reacted by collapsing to the turf in disbelief and had to be consoled by staff as he made his way down the tunnel.
Juventus coach Max Allegri said: ‘VAR would have avoided what happened, it would have brought the right decision. We hope the suspension will be limited.’
Ronaldo has cried before in the Champions League, usually after winning one of the four trophies he has lifted in the past five seasons with Real Madrid.
To a chorus of whistles and insults on his first return to Spain, he had strutted into the Mestalla before the game with the confidence of the best and most-decorated player in the tournament’s history.
But he was robbed of his splendour and stripped of his swagger following his first dismissal in what was his 154th Champions League match, a perceived injustice the source of his tears as opposed to joy.
Even without Ronaldo the visitors were comfortable, forced to rely on good old Catenaccio rather than their Galactico. Captain Giorgio Chiellini was again a colossus at the back and and Wojciech Szczesny saved a stoppage-time penalty from Daniel Parejo.
This performance certainly bodes well for their tilt at a first Champions League crown since 1996 and that is why Ronaldo is here, for Allegri has made no secret of this being their priority. He can only hope his star player is crying for the right reasons come May.