Portugal were without star man Cristiano Ronaldo in Sunday’s Confederations Cup third-place playoff on Sunday – and their reliance on his set-pieces was never more evident.

Granted, the Real Madrid forward doesn’t have the best record when it comes to free kicks (despite his insistence on taking them), but at least his demand to take them offers some sort of structure.

With the talisman gone home early following the birth of his twin babies, some of his Portuguese teammates must have thought that this was their chance to shine and curl one into the op corner or rifle one into the back of the net from range.

Instead, their attempt at a clever free-kick routine against Mexico was something of a disaster:

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Substitutes William Carvalho and Ricardo Quaresma attempted an elaborate step-over routine, presumably with the intention of the latter shooting. However, one of the opposition players was too close to Quaresma for the winger to get a shot off.

Had Carvalho complained to the referee about the infringement then the offending Mexican player would have been moved back the required ten yards. However, by touching the ball, Carvalho was effectively telling the referee that there was no problem and, with the ball now in play, Quaresma was forced into a pass as a result.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 02 : Pepe (L) and Neto (R) of Portugal in action during the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Play-Off for Third Place between Portugal and Mexico at Spartak Stadium on July 2, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Fortunately for Portugal, they were already 2-1 up at this point. Pepe’s late strike cancelled out a second-half own goal from Neto to send the tie into extra time, wherein it was settled by a goal from Andre Silva.

There was even time for a couple of red cards, as Nelsinho and Raul Jimenez were both send off for second bookable offences to leave both sides with ten men.


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