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Portugal And Ronaldo Pay The Price On Penalties

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England as we well know have a dire record on penalty shoot-outs where they have lost twice in the space of two years to Portugal in major tournaments. Portugal of course exited Euro 2012 on penalties last night to Spain in a rather odd state of affairs.

Their talisman, captain and inspirational genius that we love, Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t take a penalty in the shoot-out, as he waited to go next as Cesc Fabregas sealed Spain’s place in the final by scoring Spain’s fifth penalty.

It was revealed after the game that Portugal’s coach Paulo Bento had asked Ronaldo to take his side’s fifth penalty in the hope that his captain in doing so would tuck away the winning penalty. You can look at this decision three ways.

1) That Bento had enough confidence in his first four penalty takers that they would score and Ronaldo wouldn’t be needed.

2) That he wanted Ronaldo up last in the hope as it would put less pressure on him instead of going up in the shoot-out early on.

3) That perhaps Bento was fully aware of the fact Iker Casillas knows Ronaldo so well from his time with Real Madrid and that if he missed early in the shoot-out it would hold Spain a big advantage.

Either way at the time it looked a huge gamble for Bento to take. Of course there’s no certainty that a player will ever score a penalty but in a shoot-out you want your best players taking them.

Of course not every player wants to take penalties and even some who do are not entirely confident of scoring. However to take the risk of Ronaldo not participating in the shoot-out was wrong and perhaps something that in hindsight Bento will regret.

However it should be worth remembering that had Bruno Alves scored his penalty which struck the woodwork with Casillas well beaten and had Fabregas not been lucky that his spot-kick came back off the woodwork and went in, then Portugal would have won the shoot-out with Ronaldo not even needed to take his penalty.

That didn’t happen though, but it wasn’t far off from happening.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87