When Portugal went out of Euro 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t do a thing about it. Their semifinal against Spain went to penalty kicks and he was set to shoot fifth. The problem is, Portugal missed two kicks and lost the shootout before Ronaldo got to take his shot.
Ronaldo was blasted for not stepping up for his country and when it was revealed that then-Portugal manager Bento asked him to go fifth, he too was questioned. Of course, that didn’t absolve Ronaldo, who somehow was still blamed.
On Thursday, Portugal found themselves back in the Euro knockout stages and, once again, it went to penalty kicks. And this time, Ronaldo wasn’t going to watch his country go out without him taking part.
Ronaldo took the first penalty kick for Portugal and coolly slotted it home. If Portugal were going to go out, it wasn’t going to be because of their star.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after Ricardo Quaresma scored the winning penalty in a shootout against Poland on Thursday.
Even better, Portugal didn’t go out. A single save by Rui Patricio was enough for Portugal to advance as Ronaldo & Co. buried all five of their shots to book a return to the semifinals.
Portugal will now square off against the winner of the Belgium-Wales quarterfinal and, odds are, that match will go to extra time. Portugal have yet to lose a match at these Euros, but they’ve also failed to win one in extra time — three draws in the group stage, an extra time win in the round of 16 and penalties in the quarterfinals.
If they go to penalty kicks again, you can bet on Ronaldo stepping up for the first shot again. He’s not going to go home from the Euros without shooting. Not after 2012.