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Soccer-Spain's Ramos marks European appearance record with penalty misses

BASEL, Switzerland, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Spain captain Sergio Ramos is used to grabbing headlines for the right and wrong reasons and did just that on Saturday against Switzerland, becoming the most capped European player ever and then the first Spain player to miss two penalties in a game.

Ramos broke Italy great Gianluigi Buffon’s record by making his 177th appearance in the Nations League match, which ended 1-1, adding to an incredible collection of feats in a career in which he was won every major trophy for club and country.

The defender truly made his mark on the occasion, ending a remarkable run of scoring 25 consecutive penalties by missing two in the second half whilst producing a goalline clearance to prevent Switzerland forward Haris Seferovic making it 2-0.

Ramos could also have scored in open play late in the game only to miss the target, but Gerard Moreno did find an equaliser to avert what would have been a second consecutive Nations League defeat for Spain after last month’s 1-0 loss to Ukraine.

But Spain coach Luis Enrique said Ramos’s twin spot-kick misses would not affect his 34-year-old captain.

“Sergio’s numbers when it comes to taking penalties are in the reach of few players. If we had got a third penalty or a fourth one he would have taken them as well,” he said. “He had scored his last 25, but football has moments like this.”

The number one spot-kick taker for Real Madrid and Spain, despite being a defender, Ramos has turned penalty taking into an art in the last two years, with his last miss coming when he hit the crossbar in Madrid’s 3-2 defeat by Sevilla in May 2018.

He has confessed to relishing the high-stakes situation of a penalty, scoring a number of crucial spot-kicks in Real’s run to the La Liga title last season as well as netting from the spot in last month’s 3-1 win at Barcelona.

But he finally met his match in Swiss keeper Yann Sommer, who guessed the right way to parry Ramos’ first penalty early in the second half and then refused to be fooled by the Spaniard’s ‘Panenka’ routine which has worked so well for him in the past.

“It’s a real shame that Ramos missed the penalties because he’s usually so good,” added Spain forward Dani Olmo.

“But he’s very strong mentally and I’m sure that the next time he takes a penalty he’ll score.” (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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