Ronaldo dodges booking issue

The winger will miss his nation’s final World Cup qualifier after picking up a caution on Friday night

Cristiano Ronaldo has refused to reveal whether or not he got himself deliberately booked in Portugal’s 1-1 draw with Israel in a bid to ensure his availability for the Seleccao’s impending World Cup play-off.

The result, coupled with Russia’s 4-0 win over Luxembourg, means Portugal are all but certain to miss out on automatic qualification from Group F of the European section.

Paulo Bento’s side sit three points adrift of Fabio Capello’s men with an inferior goal difference going into the final qualifiers and are likely to feature in the play-offs.

Ronaldo was booked late on in the game in Lisbon for dissent, leading to speculation that he may have picked up a yellow card on purpose so he could miss his country’s final group qualifier against Luxembourg on Tuesday.

However, the Real Madrid star has denied he deliberately earned a caution so he could take a clean disciplinary record into the play-offs.

“Fifa is always very attentive to those situations,” said the 28-year-old.

“The play-off is the most important and I don’t want to be out. I will be at those two matches.”

When asked about potential opponents in the play-offs, Ronaldo highlighted France – who look set to finish second behind Spain in Group I – as the main threat.

“France are the strongest we may face,” he continued. They are the only ones I do not want to face.”

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