Ron fizzles, Messi dazzles

At Euro, Portugal captain falters on occasion of his record caps haul with penalty miss

Cristiano Ronaldo could not cap breaking Luis Figo's appearance record for Portugal with a goal against Austria, fluffing his lines from 12 yards as his side could only draw 0-0.
Cristiano Ronaldo could not cap breaking Luis Figo's appearance record for Portugal with a goal against Austria, fluffing his lines from 12 yards as his side could only draw 0-0.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

At Euro, Portugal captain falters on occasion of his record caps haul with penalty miss

PARIS • Has any nation played prettier football, with uglier results, than Portugal at tournaments?

And has any star suffered in them as obviously, as publicly - and as deliciously for detractors - as Cristiano Ronaldo?

They came up short again, dominating, but drawing 0-0 with Austria in their Euro 2016 Group F encounter on Saturday.

Ronaldo was their prince of pain. He came, he pranced, he huffed, he fluffed, he botched a penalty.

"Messi!" was the taunt, from Austria's boisterous fans, that rang loud into the Parisian night.

The resistance of their striving but functional team looked broken when Martin Hinteregger, their centre-half, grappled and tugged down Ronaldo to give him a spot kick in the 78th minute.

But both personal and national history at this level seemed to weigh Ronaldo's self-belief down.

The Portuguese looked drawn and twitchy while waiting to run up and when he reached the ball, his shot seemed a little snatched.

Despite sending Robert Almer the wrong way, his effort hit the post. He buried his head in his hands.

Ronaldo had scored in each of his previous three European Championships for a tally of six. He missed a golden chance to register at a fourth Euro.

His tournament scoring record is poor in the context of his golden career - nine goals in 29 games stretching back to Euro 2004.

Earning a record-breaking 128th cap (overtaking Luis Figo), Ronaldo's mission was simple: Lead Portugal to a first victory in this second Group F outing to hand them control of their route into the last 16.

But the captain fluffed his lines.

"Obviously it was a goal to be the most capped international player, and also to be the national team's top scorer," he said.

"But obviously I'm a bit sad, because this wasn't the way I wanted to break this record."

This second successive draw leaves Portugal with only two points and needing to beat Hungary in their final group match on Wednesday.

Fernando Santos refused to take any questions about Ronaldo, citing the old line about talking only about the team, not individuals.

But the coach said: "The players cannot be anxious. Of course, we're going through a tough time right now, but we can't wallow in our misery. We have a final on June 22."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2016, with the headline 'At Euro, Portugal captain falters on occasion of his record caps haul with penalty miss'. Print Edition | Subscribe