Ronaldo confident his aim still true after miss
Friday 25 April 2008
If Cristiano Ronaldo's missed penalty cost him any sleep on Wednesday night, then he did not betray any signs of it. "I'm always confident," he said. "I've 38 goals this season so it's not a problem if you miss one or two. I've scored 16 or 17 penalties since joining United and I've missed two. If I get another penalty in Manchester I'll score. I have confidence in my own ability."
No one doubts the last bit, and it is typical of the player's self-belief that he has scored fewer and – strictly speaking – missed more than he thinks he has. His total from the spot is 12 since Louis Saha's missed effort at Celtic Park in the Champions League last season saw him take the job, and to the miss at Upton Park in December – a game United lost – can be added the one Chris Kirkland saved at Wigan the previous season, Ronaldo netting from the rebound.
Though Sir Alex Ferguson would probably have taken a 0-0 when forced to deploy Wes Brown in central defence, the miss creates headaches for him against the landscape of tomorrow's visit to Stamford Bridge. An away goal might have left him confident enough to play an optimum side against Chelsea but, with so much resting on next Tuesday's return, Tomasz Kuszczak might well come in for Edwin van der Sar in goal. Whether to rest Paul Scholes, hugely influential of late, is a more difficult decision but there might well be roles for Gerard Pique, John O'Shea and Nani. Rio Ferdinand could also use a break.
Ronaldo might also care to ignore stories about United's previous 0-0 draws in Europe – including the draw in the Bernabeu which saw Real Madrid defeat them at Old Trafford in 2000 and prompted Ferguson to profess his legendary dislike of the scoreline.
Wayne Rooney was a touch prickly when questioned about the penalty miss but Ferdinand said Ronaldo's work ethic made his miss forgivable. "Nothing was said" in the dressing room, the defender revealed.
Ferdinand sees the miss as one more chapter in the ongoing Ronaldo story. "He's had ups and downs in his life, in his career, so I'm sure this is just another page in his story." The significance of the latest plot twist depends on Barcelona's ability, in Manchester four days from now, to punish Ronaldo and United for the error.
The defender Nemanja Vidic has recovered from the stomach infection which caused him to miss Wednesday's match in Barcelona and will be fit to play at Chelsea tomorrow.
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