Portugal boss Fernando Santos has defended the three players who failed to convert their spot-kicks in his side’s 3-0 penalty shootout loss to Chile in the Confederations Cup semifinals on Wednesday.
The game finished scoreless after 120 minutes and went to penalties, where three main figures from Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph last summer — Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho and Nani — all saw their efforts saved by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Having been the first three kick-takers, the trio’s failures left Cristiano Ronaldo an innocent bystander during the shootout, while Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Alexis Sanchez converted their attempts to seal passage to the final for the Copa America champs.
However, Santos was in no mood to fault them on the day.
“The goalkeeper was fantastic but the three players who failed their penalties were heroes in the European Championship against Poland,” Santos said.
“I always defend my players. It’s my decision who takes them.”
Santos also defended his decision to push Ronaldo further back in the order.
“That was the order we chose,” Santos said. “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].”
And of the match, Santos added: “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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