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Euros roundup: Ronaldo misses PK, Portugal held to draw

Rob Harris
Associated Press

Paris — Cristiano Ronaldo experienced a night to forget on his record 128th Portugal appearance Saturday, missing a late penalty in a 0-0 draw against Austria that left his team winless after two matches at the European Championship.

As goalkeeper Robert Almer dived to his left, Ronaldo struck the spot kick in the opposite direction but it crashed against the post in the 79th minute.

Ronaldo did find the net find minutes later, but there was no 59th Portugal goal for the forward as it was ruled out for offside at the Parc des Princes.

It summed up another substandard game in France for the Portugal captain, who is still waiting to score in a record fourth European Championship.

“We have to take our chances,” man-of-the-match Joao Moutinho said, without singling out Ronaldo for blame.

If the Portuguese are as profligate in the final group game against leader Hungary, they could be going home early after also drawing their opening game against Iceland.

Austria is off the mark after opening with a loss to Hungary, ensuring a tight conclusion to Group F.

Iceland and Portugal are both on two points, two behind Hungary.

“We can’t wallow in our own misery,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said through a translator. “There is a final to play on the 22nd — our first final of these Euros … and then the team can grow.”

Portugal requires the same guile and speed of a post-match selfie-seeker.

There was a brief security scare after the final whistle when a fan rushed onto the field to approach Ronaldo. A steward intervened, but Ronaldo allowed the fan to pose for a selfie.

Ronaldo won’t want any pictures to remember this game. It was a landmark match but not a memorable one for the Real Madrid forward.

“Messi, Messi, Messi,” were the taunts from the Austria fans when Ronaldo was in possession at times.

The Austrians didn’t have much to cheer from their own team after Martin Harnik missed the target after evading his marker in the third minute.

After that, it was all Portugal — but all frustration.

Austria goalkeeper Robert Almer was the initial barrier, blocking Nani’s shot and tipping Vieirinha’s effort wide in quick succession.

After belittling Iceland’s modest ambitions after last week’s draw, Ronaldo wasn’t living up to his own high standards.

Nani’s interplay with Raphael Guerreiro on the left flank led to the ball being squared invitingly to Ronaldo but he sent the shot wide in the 28th.

Ronaldo clasped his hands and looked up to the skies. The anguish was etched on his face and was there again 10 minutes later. Presented with another opening by Ricardo Quaresma, Ronaldo shot straight at Almer.

It was a strong performance by Almer, who turned Moutinho’s shot over after Nani header’s came off the post before the break.

The second half opened with Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio called into action for the first time, turning Stefan Ilsanker’s shot away.

But Ronaldo couldn’t beat Patricio’s opposite number.

When Ronaldo spotted a gap in the defense to drive in a fierce shot it was turned wide by Almer and the goalkeeper parried the forward’s downward header from the resulting corner.

And don’t mention set pieces to Ronaldo.

He has now failed to score from 36 free kicks at major tournaments, stretching back to Euro 2004. The first in Paris hit the Austrian defensive wall and the second flew over the crossbar.

Even when Ronaldo was hauled down in the penalty area by Martin Hinteregger, Ronaldo couldn’t seize the opening as his spotkick struck the post.

“If this ball would have been a goal we could have returned home to Austria,” Austria coach Marcel Koller said. “Now we’re still in the tournament.”

Iceland 1, Hungary 1: Birkir Saevarsson scored a late own-goal to hand Hungary a draw in another European Championship match affected by crowd trouble. Saevarsson turned a cross from Nemanja Nikolic into his own net as Iceland was headed for its first victory at a major tournament.

As the players celebrated the 88th-minute equalizer, Hungarian fans threw flares onto the field and into a group of nearby police officers, delaying the restart. Iceland took the lead in the 40th minute when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored from the penalty spot, hitting the ball low and hard to veteran goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly’s right.

Hungary now has four points in Group F and looks set to qualify for the round of 16. Iceland has two points and next plays Austria.

Before the match, Hungarian fans clashed with stewards and a small group of French police as they forced their way over a fence in a corner section of the Stade Velodrome in an attempt to cross into another stand and join a hardcore fan group behind the goal.

A flare was later waved during the national anthems in the Hungarian end, which was packed with supporters in black t-shirts, and a firecracker was thrown onto the field from the same part of the stand after the referee awarded the penalty.

Another flare was lit after the final whistle when Hungarian players ran to celebrate with supporters.

Hungary is likely to face a significant fine from UEFA after repeated crowd trouble, a day after fighting and flare-throwing by Croatian supporters.

Belgium 3, Ireland 0: Romelu Lukaku scored twice to help Belgium bounce back from its opening defeat at the European Championship, with a victory against Ireland. Belgium’s victory in the Group E match in Bordeaux day came as its much-vaunted attack finally sprang to life after wasting a series of chances in the first half. Both sides still have a chance to progress to the knockout stages of Euro 2016. Belgium plays Sweden next while Ireland meets Italy, which has won the group.