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Gavin Bazunu takes responsibility for penalty concession on night he comes of age

Gavin Bazunu puts in heroic performance.

Gavin Bazunu went a long way to becoming a household name in Ireland last night by saving a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo, with the eyes of the world fixed upon them both.

A goal for Ronaldo would have seen him break Ali Daei’s international record and while a late brace saw him notch his 110th and 111th goals for Portugal, Bazunu made the new Manchester United man wait for his big moment.

Gavin Bazunu: “The penalty was my fault.”

Early in the first half, Bazunu played a short pass to Jeff Hendrick, which resulted in the Newcastle United man giving away a penalty, and speaking to RTE afterwards, the goalkeeper fronted up saying the concession was “my fault.”

He more than made up for the mistake though as, after a long VAR delay, he stopped Ronaldo’s penalty by diving to his right, with football fans all over the world waiting to see the forward make history.

“My first emotion was disappointment,” Bazunu told Tony O’Donoghue afterwards when asked about the penalty.

The goalkeeper had done his homework.

“I’d given it away, it was my fault for the penalty but I just tried to stay calm. It was a long time between the penalty being awarded and being taken so I just tried to stay relaxed and trust my gut.”

Clearly unfazed by the prospect of facing Ronaldo, the 19-year-old was of course aware of the significance of the Portuguese captain’s next goal in terms of his record-breaking career.

However, he managed to block it all out and focus on the job in hand, as he explained to Tony that he had done his homework on Ronaldo’s technique.

“I was trying not to think about (Ronaldo’s record) too much,” Bazunu said. “I was just focussing on the clips I had watched, what I thought he was going to do and I just stuck to the side I was going to.”

Despite the heartbreaking finish, with two Ronaldo goals cancelling out John Egan’s opener, last night’s performance was the most encouraging from a Republic of Ireland team since Stephen Kenny took over.

Afterwards, the manager hailed his players for their “heroic” showing and with matches against Azerbaijan and Serbia coming up at the Aviva Stadium, the Irish crowd will be able to show their appreciation for Kenny’s team for the very first time in person.

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