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Portugal 0 Slovenia 0 (3-0 on pens): Cristiano Ronaldo in tears after penalty miss but gets redemption in shootout win

CRISTIANO Ronaldo wiped the tears from his eyes after Portugal scrambled through to the last eight.

Ronaldo’s extra-time spot kick miss – after a shocking decision by Italian ref Daniele Orsato – left the old stager crying with despair.

Rex

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the shootout[/caption]

AP

Diogo Costa was the shootout hero[/caption]

PA

The keeper saved a European Championship record three penalties[/caption]

He would have been bawling all night had Benjamin Sesko not missed an absolute sitter after Ronaldo’s fellow veteran Pepe fell over the ball.

But Diogo Costa saved three in a row from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic to make European Championship history.

And after Ronaldo scored – and apologised to the Portuguese fans – Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva following his example to earn a last eight showdown with France on Friday.

It ensured Ronaldo was bailed out for his blunder – from a penalty that should never have been given 12 minutes into the added 30 minutes.

Diogo Jota had run into the box but stumbled into defender Vanja Drkusic, who certainly played the ball, before tumbling over his knee.

But the VAR booth in Leipzig upheld the call and Ronaldo, despite a night of frustration, would surely score.

He struck with power, to the keeper’s left, but Oblak guessed right, brilliantly anticipating to turn the ball aside.

Ronaldo’s tears were symbolic.

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Once upon a time, he would have found the moment, the imagination, to break down even a team as relentlessly determined as these Slovenians.

While his spirit is still willing at 39, the flesh is now weaker.


There was no lack of effort. No shortage of runs, shots, flicks or tricks, three free-kicks too.

Yet it all foundered on the rugged Balkan rocks at the back, who simply refused to be bullied or blustered to ensure it went the distance.

And then, when he was gifted the best opportunity of the lot, Oblak, whose heroics were lost amid the ultimate drama.

Slovenia’s resilience and determination passed unnoticed as England’s sterile performance against them in Cologne was denounced.

But there is nothing wrong with playing to your strengths, and that was exactly what they did.

PA

Ronaldo missed from the penalty spot[/caption]

Reuters

Jan Oblak made a tremendous save[/caption]

Reuters

Oblak guessed right to keep it out[/caption]

Yes, there were times when they were rocking, struggling against the pace of Rafael Leao, tormented occasionally by Bernardo Silva, always wary about the lurking presence of Ronaldo.

But time and again, in a performance embodied by centre-halves Drkusic and Jaka Bijol, they found the block, the tackle, the clearance required.

They needed, more than once, their keeper too.

And when Jan Oblak was called upon, crucially in the final seconds of normal time when Jota sent Ronaldo in on goal, and then in extra-time, he stood tall and strong.

There were other moments for Portugal. Of course there were.

Ronaldo and the late-arriving Bruno Fernandes could not quite get on the end of one delicious Bernardo Silva cross.

Then, after Leao’s surging run was ended by Drkusic’s lunge on the edge of his own box, Ronaldo’s effort flew past Oblak’s groping fingers but a fraction too high.

Yet it was far from one way traffic, even if Slovenia were playing a Balkan version of rope-a-dope.

Getty

Ronaldo was left devastated[/caption]

AFP

Ronaldo was in floods of tears[/caption]

Reuters

Bruno Fernandes consoles his skipper[/caption]

Left back Nuno Mendes rescued his side after Petar Stojanovic escaped down the right and tried to tee up Andraz Sporer before Sesko struck at Diogo Costa from distance.

Portugal’s closest first half effort saw Joao Palhinha’s shot scraping Oblak’s right post after Leao had forced his way into the box while Bernardo Silva smacked wide straight after the restart.

Ronaldo was engaged in a couple of running spats with the resolute Slovenians, who were throwing themselves in the way of everything.

Oblak punched away another thumping Ronaldo free-kick which would have knocked a hole clean through the net and probably the stands behind his goal too before the first of two huge chances Sesko had been waiting for, one on one against Pepe from half-way.

The Leipzig striker was too good for the veteran defender but then scuffed wide with his left foot.

When Ronaldo’s late chance ended in Oblak’s midriff, it ensured an extra half hour, Martinez screaming out instructions in the middle of the huddle.

Ronaldo, seemingly impassive to the hectoring, did not look so stoical after his miss, although Slovenian boss Matjez Kek saw red for voicing his fury at the official.

Had Sesko, given a clear run on goal by Pepe’s stumble, past Diogo Costa, Ronaldo would have joined the 41-year-old in the dock.

He missed and redemption was granted by the Portuguese keeper. A narrow escape, for Ronaldo and Martinez.


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