I'm no bottler, says Ronaldo as Portugal touch down to heroes' welcome
23:53 GMT, 28 June 2012
There is perhaps only one thing worse than losing and that is losing when you think you could have done things differently.
That, however, is the anguish being suffered by Cristiano Ronaldo and his coach Paulo Bento in the wake of Portugal’s exit from Euro 2012 against Spain on Wednesday.
Portugal’s players returned home as heroes. Before the tournament, expectations were relatively low and they have exited the tournament with honour in the eyes of their public.
Back home: Ronaldo and Portugal landed in Lisbon to a heroes welcome
Nevertheless the debate over why Ronaldo didn’t take a penalty in the shoot-out Portugal lost to their great rivals in Donetsk continues with the squad’s captain and talisman revealing that he actually wanted to take the first kick but that Bento advised otherwise.
Ronaldo was stranded as the unused fifth man as central defender Bruno Alves missed Portugal’s fourth attempt and Spain’s Cesc Fabregas settled things a minute or so later.
Ronaldo said: ‘The coach is the one to pick penalties takers and I was the fifth. If it was my call I’d be the first.
‘There wasn’t any ghost haunting me after my miss against Bayern Munich in the Champions League this season. But, equally, it wasn’t my decision to take the fifth one.’
Sign here: Paulo Bento gives an autograph
Ronaldo’s exit from this tournament was particularly sad, given the way that he had guided his team to the last four with some superb individual performances. Having held Spain to a 0-0 score line after 120 minutes, Portugal perhaps thought they had done the hard work prior to the shoot-out.
‘I think we were the best team and that Spain were a bit lucky,’ said Manchester United winger Nani.
Nevertheless what has not yet been explained by anybody in the Portugal camp is why Ronaldo wasn’t promoted up the order of penalty takers once it became clear that the shoot-out may not last the distance.
Nani, for example, had already jumped ahead of Bruno Alves as the big defender appeared set to take penalty No 3, pulling him back as he began to walk towards the spot.
Tough to take: Ronaldo reflects on a penalty defeat to Spain
UEFA confirmed to Sportsmail that there is no set order given to the match referee before a shoot-out starts, meaning that Ronaldo could have taken the fourth kick had he wished.
He added ‘Penalties are a lottery and Spain were lucky. I congratulate them. During the game everyone was evenly matched and we must be proud of what we have done.
‘We go out with our head held high.
‘Those who took pens did well. You can take the second, the third or the fifth. It doesn’t matter.’
Spain now head to Kiev for Sunday’s final with the prospect of an unprecedented third successive tournament win in sight.
Cool head: Ramos beats Patricio from the spot
Defender Sergio Ramos reflected on the chipped ‘Pirlo’ penalty that made up for the memory of a horror miss in Madrid’s Champions League semi-final defeat to Bayern.
He said: ‘I didn’t decide to take it like that until I was on the run-up.
‘You think about the situation and what could happen but I had confidence to take on that responsibility.
‘I was able to remove that thorn from my side that I got when I missed a penalty in the semi-final of the Champions League.
‘You’re aware of the comments people make but what really matters is that Spain are in the final and are going to continue making history.
‘My penalty will just be anecdotal in the end.’