Santos: Portugal penalty flops are still heroes

Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho and Nani are "heroes" despite missing their penalties for Portugal against Chile at the Confederations Cup.

Portugal's Nani and Fernando Santos.   -  Getty Images

Fernando Santos moved quickly to remind people of the Euro 2016 penalty heroics of Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho and Nani after Portugal was beaten in a Confederations Cup semifinal shoot-out by Chile on Wednesday.

All three players had their spot-kicks saved by Claudio Bravo in Kazan, as Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Alexis Sanchez fired Chile to victory after a goalless draw.

But Santos warned against vilifying the trio, who were among the scorers as Portugal beat Poland in a quarterfinal shoot-out on its way to winning Euro 2016.

"The goalkeeper was fantastic but the three players who failed their penalties were heroes in the European Championship against Poland," said Santos. 

"I always defend my players. It's my decision who takes them."

Cristiano Ronaldo took the first penalty in Marseille last year but did not step up to take one this time around, despite seeing his side fail with the opening two.

"That was the order we chose," added Santos. "These three players scored their goals in the Euros."

"There's no point thinking along those lines [that the order could have been changed after the first was saved]."

Assessing the match, Santos continued: "Chile don't give you a lot of space. We saw that with Germany; they were dominated by Chile [in a 1-1 draw] and were only able to get good plays when they moved to the wings. That's how they scored.

"That was our plan, to get rid of the pressure and pass the ball quickly. We were successful once or twice and we were better at that time.

"After that, there were times we weren't so successful. I saw the team was throwing long balls forward and, having two players up front, the probability of winning the ball was greater, but we weren't so strong in midfield. So I moved Andre Gomes behind Cristiano Ronaldo and I thought we could create crosses with two wingers and cause a problem.

"There was a moment that happened but then we went back to square one. We had to be more incisive. Chile won and we have to congratulate Chile."


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