by ‘Ifreke Inyang
On Wednesday night, the first finalist of the ongoing European Championships was decided. A tight Iberian derby by all accounts, we did not witness the best of football. Despite the fact that we had an incredible number of world-class players in the two teams, the match was eventually decided via penalty kicks, after a goalless 120 minutes.
Cristiano Ronaldo was pencilled to take the fifth kick, but didn’t get to, as his compatriots had missed twice. Off colour in the first two matches, the Real Madrid forward came to the party in the third group game. His virtuoso performances virtually dragged his nation into the final four of the competition. However, when it really mattered, the superstar couldn’t save Portugal.
But it was rather shocking that people still turned on Ronaldo after the game. Their anger? He didn’t step up to take a penalty kick before Cesc Fabregas slammed in the winning penalty.
“I was going to take the next [penalty], but we missed two,” he confirmed to the Portuguese TV network SIC, after the game. “It was just a question of me speaking with the coach. He said to me, ‘Do you want to take the fifth one?’ and I said ‘yes’. Sometimes I take the first, the second or the third. I agreed to take the fifth.”
The coach Paulo Bento explained the motive behind the order. “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.
Haven’t we seen star players step up first, second or last in a penalty shoot-out before and still miss? What the heck was the noisesome pestilence from irate fans and drivel-spitting tweeters about? Football fans always look for scapegoats, no matter how unlikely. It’s the curse that comes with the gift. But on this occasion, they picked the wrong player.
In my opinion, I think Ronaldo had a fantastic and is in with a big shout to be named the world’s best, when the plaques are handed out later in the year.