Portugal winger Nani has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo insisted on taking the last penalty in their Euro 2012 semi-final loss to Spain. Portugal went out of the tournament after a 4-2 loss to Spain in the shoot-out which bizarrely did not feature their captain and best player Ronaldo.
The Real Madrid ace was penciled down as Portugal’s fifth penalty taker but Spain secured the shoot-out win before Ronaldo’s number was even called. He would later suggest that the decision to place him fifth in the queue was made by Portugal coach Paulo Bento, but Nani has offered up a different version of events.
In quotes referenced by the Daily Mail, the Manchester United star suggested his former team-mate wanted the glory of potentially netting the winning penalty in the shoot-out by going fifth.
“Cristiano Ronaldo demanded the last penalty,” Nani said. “I said to the coach I would accept any order. It didn’t seem to be a problem to me, because penalty shoot-outs are all about luck and we did not deserve to lose like that.”
Xabi Alonso had the first spot-kick saved by Rui Patricio but Spain’s Iker Casillas evened things up by saving the first Portuguese penalty from Joao Moutinho.
Andres Iniesta, Pepe, Gerard Pique, Nani and Sergio Ramos all put away their penalties before Bruno Alves – who had inadvertently stepped up for the previous penalty which was eventually converted by Nani – hit the bar, leaving Cesc Fabregas to put Spain through.
Nani is merely confirming the obvious, but Portugal’s coach Paulo Bento bears the greatest responsibility. He allowed the team’s star too much influence in his decision making process. No matter what, Ronaldo should have been the first or among the first three shooters, but definitely not behind Bruno Alves. This miscalculation will haunt the Portuguese until the next tournament, a great opportunity wasted.