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No goals but lots of selfie-seekers for Ronaldo in chaotic Portugal win over Turkey at Euro 2024

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — By the end, it was hard to know what Cristiano Ronaldo was more frustrated about.

Failing to score for the second straight game at the European Championship or having to fend off repeated attempts for selfies by his adoring fans.

In what proved to be a wild and potentially dangerous match for the five-time world player of the year, Ronaldo had no goals, one assist and no less than four selfie-seeking field invaders for company in Portugal’s chaotic 3-0 win over Turkey that secured his team a spot in Euro 2024’s round of 16 on Saturday.

Ronaldo, one of the world’s most popular and well-known sport stars, was the center of attention as always at Westfalenstadion.

Just not how he might have expected.

“That’s the price you pay for being so recognized in the world of football,” said Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo’s Portugal teammate.

Making a record 27th appearance at the Euros, Ronaldo did get his first goal involvement of this tournament when he set up the third by Bruno Fernandes in the 55th minute with an unselfish pass across the face of the six-yard box after being played clean through.

Ronaldo, the most prolific scorer ever in men's international soccer with 130 goals, rarely passes up such opportunities to add to his remarkable tally.

Perhaps he just wanted another record. This was his eighth assist at a European Championship, more than anyone else.

“It was a pure moment of Portuguese football,” Portugal coach Roberto Martinez said in praise of Ronaldo, his captain. “It should be shown in every academy in Portugal and world football, because it showed that the team is the most important thing.”

Then things got a bit silly — and potentially unsafe — for the former Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus striker.

Ronaldo was fine posing for a photograph with a young boy who evaded stewards to get on the field in the 69th minute and whipped out his cell phone. That fan sprinted off before finally being grabbed and escorted away by security.

However, Ronaldo certainly wasn't amused when two other fans with phones at the ready tried the same trick in the final few minutes of a game that flew out of control. He threw his arms up in disgust the first time and appeared to actively try to avoid the next one as he defended a corner.

It wasn't clear if those fans got their wish before being taken away.

After the final whistle, there were more security breaches as a fan wearing a red Portugal jersey attempted to get close to Ronaldo while holding a phone. He was soon tackled to the ground. Then two more supporters were prevented from confronting Ronaldo as Portugal’s players walked off the field, having just come from saluting their law-abiding fans in the stands.

“It's a concern,” Martinez said, “because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good.

“If those intentions are wrong, the players are exposed. I don't think that should happen on a football pitch.”

Ronaldo missed out on a chance to score a record-extending 15th European Championship goal against a Turkey team that was its own worst enemy at times.

Not least in the 28th minute when, trailing 1-0 to Silva’s strike seven minutes earlier, Turkey center back Samet Akaydin delivered a back-pass that rolled to the side of his goalkeeper and straight into the net. Remarkably, it was a sixth own-goal already at these Euros — and certainly the most embarrassing, with Akaydin later being taken off injured to complete a miserable evening for the defender.

Portugal backed up its opening 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic and has qualified with a game to spare from Group F, guaranteeing a last-16 match in Frankfurt on July 1. Martinez may choose to rest Ronaldo and more of his key players for Portugal's final group match, against Georgia in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday.

Turkey stayed on the three points it had from beating Georgia 3-1 in their first game, but the pressure has been firmly ramped up on coach Vincenzo Montella, who faced intense questioning of his tactics from his country's media after the match.

“We were punished harshly tonight," Montella said.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024