The two pundits defending Cristiano Ronaldo would hardly inspire confidence 2 years ago

The two pundits defending Cristiano Ronaldo would hardly inspire confidence

Fissures are emerging all over the punditry landscape after a night of high drama in Russia.

Cristiano Ronaldo must have been worried as hell as referee Enrique Caceres was summoned to the TV screen near the Portuguese bench to review his collision with Iran's Morteza Pouraliganji.

When we write 'collision', we mean Ronaldo clattering Pouraliganji with his forearm long after the ball had disappeared out of shot. It was reckless but, to my mind, not worthy of a straight red card.

Over on RTE, former Ireland international Keith Andrews commented:

"The referee either sees it as he is trying to get through to the ball and in that case it’s nothing. Or it’s an elbow, there is nothing in between."

Liam Brady went a couple of steps/octaves further when he described the decision as ' an absolute cop-out'.

Ronaldo's reaction to the incident, first as he fretted about a potential sending off then his smile and head-shake when he escaped the sanction, was great TV.

Credit: RTE

Dion Fanning's take on the incident, on the JOE World Cup Minipod, was excellent. He said:

"That long, long wait as we waited to see what was going to happen to Ronaldo. It was like a season-ending moment.

"It was like Season 4 had ended and you were waiting for Season 5. How long did that take? It took forever! Months and months passed as we waited to see what would happen to Ronaldo, who should have been sent off but who wasn't."

We were treated to the added VAR time at the end of injury time and it felt as if the match would roll on into Tuesday morning. Fanning remarked that Portugal vs. Uruguay, in the second round, may take months to complete, with VAR shouts every couple of minutes. An open VAR, if you will.

On BBC 5 Live, former Celtic and Blackburn striker Chris Sutton claimed 'the ref bottled it' when it came to the Ronaldo VAR call.

"Ronaldo threw his forearm. How can you stay on the pitch after that? How is that a yellow card? He had to go in that situation."

Sutton, who got one cap for England back in 1997, shared a BBC clip of his opinion on the matter and it drew plenty of responses, with Ian Wright and Robbie Savage getting involved.

So there you have it. Battle lines drawn.

On one side you have Liam Brady, Chris Sutton, Dion Fanning and Keith Andrews. On the other you have Robbie Savage, Ian Wright and the BBC's Mark Lawrenson.

Who's side are you on?