Federation Internationale de Football Association backs Maradona but urges World Cup star to be respectful

SAINT PETERSBURG RUSSIA- JUNE 26 Ever Banega of Argentina in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium

Ronaldo meanwhile put in a subdued performance as the European Champions winners were knocked out by Uruguay.

Messi's Argentina lost 4-3 to France and hours later Ronaldo's Portugal went down 2-1 to Uruguay, leaving the tournament without its two best known and most loved players.

"It's time to say goodbye, it's time to support from outside", Mascherano said at full-time.

In Saturday's seven goals thriller, the 33-year old only had an assist to his credit but 19-year-old France ace, Kylian Mbappe stood tall on the spotlight scoring two of the goals in the 64th and 68th minutes respectively.

Had there been better midfield options for Argentina - their crop of youngsters is extremely disappointing and one of the main reasons for their bad performances this Fifa World Cup 2018 - Mascherano would not have been the first name on the teamsheet. "We have a young and ambitious squad", he said.

More news: US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announces retirement

The defeats also saw Ronaldo and Messi - widely considered among the greatest to have ever played the game - continued their embarrassing run of never having scored in the knockout stages of the World Cup. But although both have made it to the final weekend in the past - Ronaldo having finished fourth in 2006, Messi second in 2014 - the last 16 was where their journey ended this time.

Ronaldo started off this year's tournament with a hat trick against Spain and then added another goal against Morocco.

"He is their leader, their captain".

Portugal are due to open their quest for Nations League glory against Italy on September 7.

Prior to the World Cup, Ronaldo led Real Madrid to its third straight Champions League title, but he arrived in Russian Federation surrounded by distractions about his club future and a tax fraud accusation back in Madrid. But it is true that now we have other players.

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