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Ronaldo fluffs his lines in Portugal stalemate with Austria
The stage on Satuday night was perfectly set for the showman incarnate: 79 minutes into his record breaking 128th cap for his country and the scoreline at 0-0, Cristiano Ronaldo sized up the ball on the penalty spot, the man on the goal line and the space either side of him.
The Parc des Princes held its breath in expectation. Ronaldo advanced and struck the ball cleanly, the Austria keeper Robert Almer dived the wrong way but the ball hit the post and the rebound was scuffled away to safety.
Transports of delight for the Austria fans, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth for the Portuguese faithful.
The Group F match finished 0-0. For the second game running, Portugal had been held to a draw and their 31-year-old captain had failed to hit the mark.
Two points from two games was not the way it was supposed to be for one of the dark horses for the title.
Portugal, this time, were supposed to be more than a one man team. But they seemed hijacked by the same inertia that bedevilled them during the disastrous campaign at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago.
And worse, they’ve become the tournament’s pantomime villains after Ronaldo criticised Iceland’s defensive tactics during their opening game encounter in Saint Etienne saying they would achieve nothing in the competition with such a small mentality.
"Obviously it was a goal to be the most capped international player and also to be the national team's top scorer," Ronaldo said. "But obviously I'm a bit sad, because this wasn't the way I wanted to break this record. We had a lot of chances and we did well. I also missed some chances - a penalty and some other chances. But that's part of football. We need to continue to believe."
After the second round of games, Iceland have two points – the same amount as Portugal. To rub salt into the wounds, Iceland are above Portugal in the Group F pecking order because they’ve scored more goals.
Portugal need to beat Hungary in the final round of matches on 22 June in Lyon to qualify for the last 16. A high scoring draw will suffice so long as Iceland don’t mirror their stalemate against Austria at the Stade de France.