BotN: Portugal combat Ã¢ÂÂslightly less good SpainÃ¢ÂÂ tag by playing like Spain, but slightly worse
The Back of the Net team report on Spain's penalty shoot-out victory over Portugal
Portugal lost out to Spain on penalties after proving to be not quite as good at anything as their rivals.
Faced with the task of dethroning the reigning champions, Portugal coach Paulo Bento hatched a master plan that involved mimicking SpainÃ¢ÂÂs fluid passing style but with slightly less fluency and panache, before closing down the game and hoping for a penalty shoot-out where his narrowly less talented players could prove themselves to be slightly less able to hold their nerves.
There had been suggestions in the press that Portugal relied too heavily on talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Portuguese players continued the controversial practice of asking Ronaldo for permission before playing each pass. In honour of the big occasion, Ronaldo insisted upon a five-minute build-up to each of his free-kick attempts culminating in a drum-roll and mini firework display, which ate up much of the second half.
Portugal struggled as the game went on, with Joao Moutinho and Raul Meiereles proving to be less gifted than Andres Iniesta and Xavi; Pepe and Coentrao less commanding than Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, and the Portuguese language less effective for hurried conversation than Spanish.
As Spain edged closer and closer to scoring a winning goal, PortugalÃ¢ÂÂs players became increasingly brutal in their treatment of their more able opponents. Every Portuguese defender collected a booking within 90 minutes, including lumbering hoofer Bruno Alves, who was shown a yellow card for repeated inaccurate passing.
Elsewhere, a Spaniard celebrated in a marginally more hilarious hat
By extra-time, the tired Portuguese players had ceased chasing the ball and instead formed a phalanx that guarded the edge of the box, moaning loudly about Spanish players Ã¢ÂÂshowing offÃ¢ÂÂ, shouting that Ã¢ÂÂBrazil is better than MexicoÃ¢ÂÂ and hacking savagely at any Spaniard that came close with its 20 cumulative limbs.
Having successfully weathered 120 minutes of being slightly worse than Spain at football, Portugal were thwarted by being slightly worse than Spain at penalties.
Misses by Joao Moutinho and oafish centre-back Bruno Alves cost Portugal dear, as SpainÃ¢ÂÂs clinical penalty takers took an unassailable 4-2 lead while also looking calmer, less sweaty and better groomed.
Cristiano Ronaldo was left rueing his decision to volunteer to take the fifth penalty, partly because his nation had been eliminated from Euro 2012 and mostly because he was denied the opportunity to posture, grimace and prance on the biggest possible stage.
As the disconsolate Portuguese players left the field, Ronaldo attempted to convince UEFA officials to herd fans back into their seats so he could take his dead-rubber penalty, but he had to instead settle for moodily skulking around the pitch and theatrically mouthing threats at the Gods.
Paulo Bento gave an emotional post-match press conference, but it was largely forgotten after Vicente Del BosqueÃ¢ÂÂs slightly more poignant comments.
More match reports from Back of the Net:
ITA 0-0 ENG: England lament justice of penalty shoot-out
ESP 2-0 FRA: France fail to turn up, turn up, fail to turn up, lose
GER 4-2 GRE: Germany put long-suffering fans through slight discomfort
POR 1-0 CZE: Ronaldo: "Ronaldo? Ronaldo, Ronaldo. Ronaldo!"