A Nevada court has recommended a civil case alleging Cristiano Ronaldo committed a sexual assault should be dismissed.
It means the Portugal star is likely to receive confirmation in the near future that the case has been thrown out.
Ronaldo was accused by Kathryn Mayorga of assaulting her in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009, but the footballer has strenuously denied the allegation.
Now at Manchester United, whom he joined from Italian club Juventus in August, Ronaldo initially described the claims, first reported in 2018 by German publication Der Spiegel, as "fake news" via an Instagram video.
No criminal charges were brought, with the Clark County District Attorney's Office announcing in July 2019 that the allegations could not "be proven beyond a reasonable doubt".
Ronaldo's lawyers pushed for the civil case to be dropped, and a United States District Court judge for the state of Nevada has agreed that documents, which emerged via alleged illegal hacks by Football Leaks, should be inadmissible and the action dismissed.
The court criticised Mayorga's legal representatives, Stovall and Associates, for the handling of the case.
"Dismissing Mayorga's case for the inappropriate conduct of her attorney is a harsh result," the court report said. "But it is, unfortunately, the only appropriate sanction to ensure the integrity of the judicial process."
In a document released by the court on Thursday, it was stated that the documents were "inherently prejudicial to Ronaldo fairly presenting his defence".
The report, signed by United States magistrate judge Daniel J Albregts, concluded: "It is recommended that Ronaldo's motion for case terminating sanctions be granted. It is further recommended that Mayorga's action be dismissed with prejudice."
The court's decision can be challenged with a written objection within 14 days, it stated.
Ronaldo said on Twitter in 2018: "I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in."
According to Der Spiegel, Mayorga first made a complaint of sexual assault in 2009 and subsequently reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo. It is claimed by the magazine she was paid $375,000 as part of a privacy agreement, preventing her from going public with the allegations.