May 23, 2013
Ronaldo follows Messi in Champions League penalty flop
In an incredible turn of events few could ever have predicted, the world's two best players fluffed their lines at crucial moments this week to help send Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona crashing out of the Champions League.
After World Player of the Year Lionel Messi smashed a penalty against the bar in Barça's semi-final reverse to Chelsea on Tuesday, Real's Cristiano Ronaldo had his saved by Manuel Neuer in Wednesday's dramatic shootout that sent Bayern Munich through to next month's final.
The Portuguese had netted from the spot early in the first half, his 25th successive penalty success, but when he stepped up to take a second after the tie at the Bernabeu ended 3-3 on aggregate Neuer dove to his right to palm the ball to safety.
Ronaldo was also denied in the shootout playing for his former club Manchester United against Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final, but his team prevailed when Edwin van der Sar blocked Nicolas Anelka's tame effort.
This time around, the world's most expensive player, for whom Real paid United around 94 million euros ($123.93 million) in 2009, could only look on in anguish as Neuer also stopped Kaka's penalty, Sergio Ramos skied his shot over the bar and Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped up to send the Germans through.
"You have to miss one eventually," Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho said in a television interview. "After two hours of working to the limit and the penalties arrive it is not easy."