PARIS: Cristiano Ronaldo crashed a penalty against the woodwork, blowing the chance to write his name into European Championship history, as Portugal stumbled to a second draw against Austria.
Ronaldo was foiled again in his bid to become the first player to score at four consecutive European Championship finals.
He at least set a new national record, making his 128th appearance for Portugal on Saturday to overtake Luis Figo. But the Real Madrid superstar will have bitter memories of the night after missing the 79th-minute spot kick.
Austrian goalkeeper Robert Almer went the wrong way, but Ronaldo’s shot came off the post.
“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. The most beautiful way would have been …,” he added shaking his head.
“Obviously it wasn’t something we wanted,” he said of the result. “We had a lot of chances and we did well, but we weren’t able to finish.
“I also missed some chances – a penalty and some other chances. But that’s part of football. We need to continue to believe.”
The 0-0 draw at the Parc des Princes leaves Hungary, who gained a point in a 1-1 draw with Iceland, as the surprise Group F leaders with a game to play. Austria must win their final match to avoid going home.
While it was a frustrating night for Ronaldo, Belgium finally clicked after losing their opener to Italy as they crushed the Republic of Ireland 3-0 in Group E.
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku scored a classy opener and added a second in Bordeaux while Alex Witsel also netted as Belgium finally showed why some observers have tipped them as outsiders for the title.
Despite being outclassed, Ireland and captain John O’Shea expressed confidence they could still beat group winners Italy in their final group game on Thursday to reach the last 16.
“We have a big chance now against Italy,” O’Shea said. “With a bit more discipline and control we can get something against Italy.
“We dust ourselves down, see how everybody is and go for Italy in Lille.”