Cristiano Ronaldo’s rise from the lanky youngster who caught the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson to one of the greatest players of all time has been simply magical. The number of records he has broken and the number of individual accolades he has won is almost unbelievable and there are times when fans are left to wonder, is there anything that the Portuguese superstar is not capable of doing on a football pitch.
Ronaldo is one of the most prolific goal scorers ever in the history of the game and the way the Real Madrid talisman constantly keeps finding the back of the net is astounding. A small portion of those goals comes from penalties and the former Manchester United player is one of the most reliable penalty takers in Europe. However, there have been instances where Ronaldo has missed the all important kick from 12-yards, which often reminds fans that the 31-year-old is still human.
A few of those misses came at crucial moments and has cost his side dearly. This piece mentions 5 of the biggest penalty misses of the Portuguese superstar’s career.
#5 vs Barcelona, 23rd April 2008
Manchester United locked horns with Barcelona in the semi-finals of the 2007-08 Champions League season and the first leg of the tie was played at the Camp Nou. The match had an eventful start as United were awarded a penalty just 2 minutes into the game when Ronaldo’s goal-bound header struck Diego Milito’s arm. Ronaldo himself stepped up to take the penalty hoping to hand United an early lead and more importantly, a crucial away goal.
But the Portuguese superstar‘s attempt went horribly wrong as his shot was not even good enough to test Victor Valdes in the Barcelona goal. Ronaldo blasted his kick wide of Valdes’s left-hand post and the away fans were left stunned when they saw their number seven, who had already netted 38 times at that point in the season, was unable to hit the target from 12 yards.
However, Ronaldo wasn’t left to rue his miss, at least after the second leg, as United advanced to the final courtesy of Paul Scholes’s 25-yard strike at Old Trafford which was the only goal of the tie.
#4 vs Austria, 18th June 2016
The UEFA Euro 2016 witnessed Portugal finally end their long wait for a major trophy when they beat the hosts France in the final. But at one stage of the tournament, it was doubtful if Portugal would even make it past the group stages as they drew their first two games.
At that stage of the competition, a few eyebrows were raised over Portugal’s captain and talisman. With the team struggling to create much from open play, Cristiano Ronaldo as he blew the chance to collect all three points against Austria when the 31-year-old couldn’t convert a spot-kick which was awarded when Austria defender Martin Hinteregger fouled him inside the box.
Ronaldo, who was making a record breaking 128th appearance for his country in that game, saw his attempt hit the left-hand post and that was Ronaldo’s fourth miss in his last five penalties for club and country.
The game finished 0-0 and it meant that Ronaldo and co. really needed to do their business in their clash against Hungary, which turned out to be an enthralling contest. Portugal came back from behind thrice to salvage a crucial point to advance to the knockout phase and it was Ronaldo’s brace that helped Portugal qualify for the last 16 of the tournament.
#3 vs Valencia, 9th May 2015
The race for the 2014-15 La Liga title was yet another close run affair between Real Madrid and Barcelona and after 35 games, only two points separated the two sides in favour of the Catalan giants.
Real Madrid knew that to stand a chance of taking the trophy home, they had to win all three of their remaining games the first of which was a home game against Valencia. However, things didn’t go according to plans for the Real against Los Che, as the visitors found themselves with a 2-0 lead after just 26 minutes into the game. Real, who had already hit the woodwork thrice in the first half, were handed a lifeline just before the half time break when Gareth Bale was brought down inside the box.
However, the Valencia goalkeeper, Diego Alves got the better of the Ronaldo as he saved the Real Madrid talisman’s spot-kick and he also failed to score from the rebound.
Los Blancos did manage to score twice in the second half but the draw meant that they fell four points behind Barcelona with two games left in the season and that drew curtains over Real’s title ambitions.
#2 vs Chelsea, 21st May 2008
Manchester United and Chelsea battled it out in the final of the 2008-09 Champions League making it the first ever all-English club final in the history of the tournament. Both sides could not be separated after 120 minutes as the game finished 1-1 and penalties were needed to decide which of the Premier League giants would be crowned European champions.
Carlos Tevez, Micheal Ballack, Micheal Carrick and Juliano Belletti converted their spot kicks before Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to take United’s 3rd penalty. The Portuguese superstar was United’s top scorer that season with 42 goals in all competitions but ironically, he missed his spot kick. Ronaldo stuttered in his run-up and struck his shot to the right of Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal, who guessed the right way and saved Ronaldo’s attempt.
However, his miss was soon forgotten as John Terry and Nicolas Anelka also failed to convert their spot-kicks and United won the Champions League for the first time in 9 years.
#1 vs Bayern Munich, 25th April 2012
It was Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid vs Jupp Heynckes' Bayern Munich in one of semis of the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League. The scoreboard showed 2-1 at the end of both legs and penalties were inevitable.
David Alaba converted Bayern’s first kick and it was Ronaldo who was handed the duty to take Real’s first kick of the shootout. The four-time Ballon d'Or winner, who had scored twice in normal time, couldn’t convert his spot kick as Manuel Neuer tipped away his attempt. Kaka and Sergio Ramos also failed to convert their penalties and it turned to be a night to forget for the Santiago Bernabeu faithful as the Los Blancos were knocked out by the German club.
Even though Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win the European crown twice in the next four years, that penalty miss against Bayern is something that the Portuguese superstar wouldn’t be able to let go off.