TURIN Oscar Cardozo relived his 2010 World Cup nightmare when he missed his spot kick in Benfica’s penalty shootout defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final on Wednesday.
From the moment substitute Cardozo lined up to take Benfica's second penalty in front of a wall of Sevilla fans, it was clear he lacked confidence.
The nervous expression on his face followed by a long, stuttering run-up signalled the worst and Cardozo confirmed Benfica supporters’ worst fears when he produced a weak left-footed effort which was saved by Sevilla goalkeeper Beto.
Four years ago, Cardozo missed another key penalty when he squandered a chance to give Paraguay a 1-0 lead over Spain in the second half of their World Cup quarter-final.
Spain, struggling to break down a dogged, ruthless Paraguay defence at the time, made the most of their luck as they hit back to win 1-0 and went on to win the World Cup.
Portuguese league topscorer in the 2009/10 and 2011/12 seasons, Cardozo has fallen out of favour this season and started only a few league matches.
His fall from grace followed a furious exchange with coach Jorge Jesus after last season's Cup final when he pushed the coach and gesticulated angrily.
Wednesday's defeat put a dampener on what has so far been a triumphant season for Benfica, who have won the Portuguese league and League Cup, and could complete a domestic treble by winning the Cup final against Rio Ave on Sunday.
"The best team didn't win," said Jesus. "Benfica deserve to be congratulated and we need to start thinking about Sunday's final.
"You can't look back in football, there are no moral winners."
Jesus, whose side also lost last season's final to Chelsea, added: "In football, the best team doesn't always win. We have to accept this and be pragmatic."
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ian Ransom)
Trending On Reuters
After a season in which once rare defeats on his favoured claycourts have arrived with alarming frequency, many believe Rafael Nadal has reached a tipping point. Tennis great John McEnroe, however, thinks it is foolhardy to dismiss the Mallorcan as a fading force and fully expects him to find his 'A game' in the days ahead. Full Article