Cristiano Ronaldo could only watch on as his Juventus side fell at the final hurdle in the Coppa Italia, after Napoli secured a 4-2 penalty shootout victory following a goalless draw on Wednesday.
After Gianluigi Buffon rolled back the years to keep Napoli at bay with goalkeeping heroics, the clash at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico went to penalties, and a disastrous start proved costly for Juventus.
Paulo Dybala’s tame effort was saved, whilst Danilo blasted over, as the Partenopei secured the trophy with four perfect spot-kicks.
Yet, as the pressure was on in the shootout, Ronaldo was conspicuous by his absence. As reported by Tuttomercatoweb, the Portuguese opted to hang back in an effort to score the potentially trophy-winning fifth penalty, a scenario that has become all too familiar for the ex-Manchester United star.
The 35-year-old enjoyed greater success when capping Real Madrid’s Champions League Final victory over bitter rivals Atletico Madrid in 2016, taking the fifth and final penalty in a 5-3 shootout win after a 1-1 draw.
However, as Juventus’ designated spot kick taker, his decision not to step until the chance to hit the winning strike presented itself backfired spectacularly. By the time Leonardo Bonucci was called up to take the third kick, the Bianconeri were staring down the barrel of defeat and it was over before Ronaldo even got a chance to shoot.
It capped a miserable evening all round for Ronaldo, who lost a second consecutive final for the first time in his career after Lazio pipped Juventus to the Supercoppa Italiana in December.
Lacking his usual sharpness, the Portuguese forward was ineffective throughout and of the Bianconeri’s starting line-up, only goalkeeper Buffon and Blaise Matuidi had fewer touches of the ball than Ronaldo’s 48.
His performance led to widespread criticism, including from former Italy international Luca Toni, whilst his failure to find any rhythm either on Wednesday or in last Friday’s Semi-Final 0-0 draw against AC Milan is a worry for Juventus.
Having missed a penalty in that clash against the Rossoneri, Ronaldo was expected to make amends against Napoli, but appeared to let ego get in the way of glory.
Juventus will be hoping their marquee man finds his form quickly as they look to seal a ninth straight Scudetto, with their first Serie A fixture coming against Bologna on Monday.