Relieved Ronaldo spared his worst day

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo feared his penalty miss in Wednesday’s Champions League final shootout would be the worst moment of his life before keeper Edwin van der Sar earned Manchester United a dramatic win over Chelsea.

Chelsea's goalkeeper Petr Cech saves a penalty kick by Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during their UEFA Champions League final soccer match at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

“I don’t know what to say, I thought we would lose when I missed,” Ronaldo, who had his kick saved by Petr Cech, told ITV after United won 6-5 on penalties following a thrilling match that ended 1-1 after extra time.

“I thought it would be the worst day of my life, but the lads believed and we won it even despite my miss. I’m very proud of them. The penalties are a lottery. I think we deserved it because we played better in the whole game.

“Now it’s the happiest day of my life,” added the Portuguese winger, who scored the opening goal in the match, before saying he was going to stay at United.

United manager Alex Ferguson revealed it was the first major penalty shootout he had won.

“It’s the first in a big game,” said Ferguson, who adds a second Champions League crown to the 10th league title of his United reign he clinched last week.

“I think there was a sense of fate. We were fantastic in the first half and should have been three up. The second half they were the better team but we recovered in extra time.”


Chelsea skipper John Terry had the chance to win it for his team but he hit the post with his side’s fifth penalty after appearing to slip in the wet conditions.

“I thought JT would score his penalty,” said United defender Rio Ferdinand. “He’s a great penalty taker in training, unfortunately he slipped. I guess somebody’s got to lose.”

Frank Lampard, who equalised for Chelsea, said: “In the end a small detail loses you the game. John slips on the penalty, you could see that, that would have put us through.

“Nobody could deny that after the first 30 minutes we dominated the game, we hit the post, we hit the bar, we were the stronger of the two teams.

“They’ve won the Champions League but we were the better team. Credit to them, they’re a great side, but it’s hard to take when it happens like that,” he said.

“John Terry’s a man’s man, not many centre halves will stand up and say I will take the last penalty because everybody knows that’s the one it can all hang on. Nobody can criticise him, certainly not from Chelsea.”

Lampard, whose mother died late last month, added: “It’s been very hard for me...It’s unfortunate that the Champions League final has come this year. But football’s been the one thing that’s kept me focussed on something.

“We will come back stronger because we have got characters and a team of giants. It’s just such a shame it’s been decided by penalties.”

Editing by Martyn Herman