DONETSK, Ukraine (AFP)
Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will have to wait another
two years to see if he will grace a major final for only the
second time after Spain edged his side 4-2 on penalties in their
Euro 2012 semi-final here on Wednesday.
However, many will question what happened in the penalty shootout
as he stood like a spare part - a disconsolate one at that - as
Cesc Fabregas put away the winning penalty leaving him as
Portugal's fifth penalty taker superfluous to proceedings.
Even more strangely, both centrebacks had preceded their captain
to the penalty spot, though Bruno Alves's first attempt was cut
off in its prime as Nani ran up and told him to go back.
Alves was eventually to go fourth and miss opening the way for
Fabregas to squeeze his winner over the line.
It could all have turned out so differently for the 27-year-old
Real Madrid maestro - who came into the game in such good form
with three goals to his name at the finals and semeingly ready to
inspire his country to their first major title.
He had a quiet start to the game just producing a couple of
flicks and passes inside while sticking to his left flank.
At that stage, the man marking him, Real Madrid fullback Alvaro
Arbeloa, felt confident enough to go forward and side foot a
great chance over the crossbar in the ninth minute.
However, all of a sudden Ronaldo sprang into action with a
terrific run down the left and a superb cross that Iker Casillas,
his Real teammate in the Spanish goal, managed to pluck out of
the air as Nani lurked.
He was now finding taking on Arbeloa to his liking and the
fullback had to resort to pulling him down in the 15th minute en
route for the penalty area - but his resulting freekick cannoned
off the wall.
He produced his first shot in the 24th minute having drifted into
the middle of the pitch, but his lob went well clear of the bar
On the 31st minute having drifted in again he was found by
Moutinho, who had intercepted the ball, and he turned the
defender and flashed in his shot which crept the wrong side of
He had a quiet start to the second-half but clicked back into
gear and on twice linked up with Hugo Almeida, but both times the
lumbering striker preferred to shoot wildly rather than play in
Ronaldo then popped up on the right flank, with Nani going to the
other, and ghosted in, catching Sergio Ramos unawares but the
latter - another Real colleague - managed to nullify the threat
and survived Ronaldo's vain appeals for a penalty.
Ronaldo missed with a couple more freekicks before being
presented with a golden chance to win it for his side in the
final minute as they produced a brilliant counter-attack.
He was found in space by Raul Meireles.
But his usual eye for goal let him down and he fired well over.
From that point on he faded from view as Ramos took charge of him
in extra-time and he cut a frustrated figure resorting at one
point to a theatrical roll on the ground after once again being
bested by his Real Madrid team-mate.