The highs and the lows - Portsmouth loanee Gavin Bazunu reveals how he thwarted Cristiano Ronaldo from the penalty spot
Pompey’s Gavin Bazunu explained how he tried not to focus on who was taking the penalty, prior to saving Cristiano Ronaldo’s spot kick for the Republic of Ireland.
In a World Cup qualifier against Portugal on Wednesday night, the Blues’ loanee goalkeeper produced an outstanding save to his right to prevent the Manchester United forward from breaking the international goal scoring record from the spot.
However, the night ended in disappointment as the 36-year-old eventually scored twice late on to snatch victory away from Stephen Kenny’s side, following John Egan’s first half opener.
Danny Cowley made the Manchester City youngster one of his top targets in the summer transfer window due, in-part, to his ability with the ball at his feet, and already the Fratton Park faithful have seen the teenager’s potential shine through.
Ronaldo, who started the night on 109 international goals, was looking to smash the goal-scoring record, but had to wait a little longer to do so due to the 19-year-old’s excellent save.
‘I was trying not to think about the fact that it was Ronaldo taking the penalty too much,’ explained Bazunu to RTE.
‘I was just focusing on the clips I had watched and what he was going to do. Then to make sure to just stick to the side I was going to go.’
The 19-year-old has been outstanding so far for Pompey, keeping three clean sheets in four league appearances, but admitted he was initially worried for his side after giving the penalty away.
Bazunu said: “My first emotion was disappointment as I’d given the penalty away. It was my fault, but I just tried to stay calm.
‘There was a lot of time between the penalty being awarded and being taken, so I just tried to stay relaxed and tried to trust my gut.’
After equalising in the 89th minute, Ronaldo netted the winner deep into injury time, a moment which Bazunu described as ‘heartbreaking’.
‘All we had to do was hold on for another five or six minutes and we would have grabbed at least a point from the game. The way we defended as a group was outstanding and the resilience we showed and the character that everyone showed was too,’ he continued.
Kenny’s side will now have to put the result behind them as they face Azerbaijan at home on Saturday.
Bazunu concluded: ‘As hard as this is going to be, we need to put this behind us and focus on the next game. It’s a quick turnaround and we can’t do anything to affect this game now, it’s over.
‘We just have to move on and focus on getting three points in the next match.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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