Belfast Telegraph

Ronaldo: Portugal were just unlucky - we can be proud

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Pride was the main feeling in Portugal yesterday following their team's semi-final defeat to Spain on penalties. After holding the world and European champions to a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes, before losing 4-2 in the shoot-out, Portugal were hailed in their national press.

"Pride of Portugal" was the front-page headline on national paper A Bola while Record wrote that "Portugal's game was touching perfection", and that "Glory was so close, we lacked Lady Luck and she stayed on the side of the champions". Jornal de Noticias put Portugal's defeat on penalties down to bad luck. "Spain won the lottery," they wrote. "The Portuguese team fought to the end. Portugal can pride itself on having a world-class side. The country is proud of them".

Cristiano Ronaldo, who nearly put Portugal into the final but shot over the bar in the 89th minute, echoed those sentiments afterwards. "Clearly to lose a semi-final on penalties is always hurtful but penalties are a lottery and the one with most luck is the one who wins," he said.

"I think it was a very successful European Championship. We did well, we were among the best four teams at the tournament and we didn't win because we didn't have luck but penalties are like that. We have to be proud, but the truth is that we are a bit frustrated because we knew we could reach the final. We did what we had to do. We played well and we deserved to be in the final."

Nelson Oliveira agreed that Portugal could "hold their heads high" after their defeat. "We obviously feel a great sadness," said the 20-year-old Benfica striker. "We wanted to go through to the final and we didn't make it. We're sad but at the same time we can hold our heads high because we are dignified in our defeat.

"We did everything we could to win and unfortunately we were unable to do so but we come away proud. We played well and we were equal to Spain."

But Helder Postiga looked positively towards the 2014 World Cup following one of Portugal's best performances in years. "Portugal demonstrated a great desire to win but unfortunately the match was decided on penalties," he said. "We didn't have the luck of previous competitions but we have to keep our heads held high because the players gave their all on the field and brought honour to Portugal.

"This result and the campaign should make the Portuguese proud. Now it is time to carry on working, it's time recover and start thinking about the next challenge."

On the spot: Who's most likely to miss a pen?

If the final of Euro 2012 ends up going to penalties, the two managers would be advised to run a mile from defenders between the ages of 25 and 29 putting their hand up to take one.

Research into the six major international tournaments between 2000 and 2010 indicates that those who play in the back four miss 33 per cent of shootout spot-kicks. The same statistic applies to players from across the pitch who are in the prime of their careers, i.e aged 25 to 29.

Penalties missed by position

Defenders: 33%

Midfielders: 25%

Forwards: 20%

Penalties missed by age

24 and under: 25%

25-29: 33%

30+: 17%

Although both Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique both fall into the category of having the odds stacked against them, both coolly slotted home their kicks against Portugal – in contrast to Bruno Alves.

Strangely, the game's top midfielders often struggle in shootouts. Xabi Alonso, Frank Lampard and Joao Moutinho – all between the ages of 25 and 29 – failed to score for their country. With one in four midfielders missing their kicks, it could be that a genius like Andres Iniesta becomes an unwitting villain.

Belfast Telegraph