Cristiano Ronaldo insists he returns home with head held high as coach Bento defends penalty order
CRISTIANO Ronaldo insists he can return home with his head held high after Portugal were knocked out of Euro 2012 by Spain on penalties, despite being held back for the 'glory' spot-kick and not having the chance to take it.
After a goalless 120 minutes, Spain clinched their place in the final by winning the shoot-out 4-2 with Ronaldo, apparently having been scheduled to take the fifth penalty, watching on.
The Real Madrid midfielder was not at his best but showed glimpses of form and also missed a great chance to clinch the match for Portugal in the dying moments of normal time.
He told O Jogo: "It's always painful losing on penalties but penalties are always a lottery and the one who has the best luck wins.
"It was a good Euro. We played the four best teams. We're going out a bit frustrated because we could have gone to the final but we were unlucky.
"I gave my best as I always have done and that's why I'm happy with my own contribution.
"We must be proud because we played well but we didn't have the luck we needed."
Asked why the world's most expensive player did not step up to take a penalty, Portugal coach Paulo Bento said it had been agreed that the captain would come forward for the final spot-kick.
"The fifth one would have been Ronaldo’s penalty." Bento said. "We had this order of Moutinho, Pepe, Nani and Alves and then it would have been Ronaldo.
"We had decided this plan and if it would have been 4-4 and Ronaldo would have had the last penalty, we would talk differently. This is about strategy, no more than that. We decided this would be the best order to succeed, but we had no luck.
"We trained and decided who would take the penalties, but there is no point talking about it any more. Spain got to the final. We could have decided the game in the 90 minutes. If I could choose a way of losing, I wouldn’t choose this one, but you have to lose some way."
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, meanwhile, has called for one last great effort from his players in the Euro 2012 final against either Germany or Italy after Cesc Fabregas tucked away the decisive spot-kick.
Del Bosque said: "The players have played so many matches and they have to show their best in one more. It was a very even match but maybe we were a little better in extra-time."
The match itself failed to live up to expectations with Portugal shading the first period but clear chances few and far between, with Xavi and Andres Iniesta missing the best chances for the favourites.
Ronaldo made little impact though he clearly worried the Spaniards from free-kicks, and almost wrote the headlines in the last minute when he was put through in the left side of the box but wasted his chance.
Spain stepped it up in extra-time and Portugal were grateful to keeper Rui Patricio for sending them to the shoot-out after he got down to make two superb saves from Jordi Alba and Jesus Navas.
When the Portugal keeper saved the opening penalty from Alonso he seemed destined to be the hero, but Iker Casillas responded with an equally fine stop to deny Joao Moutinho with second spot-kick.
Five successful spot-kicks followed before Bruno Alves - who had already walked forward for the previous spot-kick before being pulled back by Nani - took Portugal's fourth and missed.
It left Fabregas to fire the decisive penalty in off the post and profound disappointment for Portugal and, in particular, Ronaldo.