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The 43-year-old coach defended the winger's performances in Poland and Ukraine and insisted that the Real Madrid ace still deserves the prestigious accolade

Portugal coach Paulo Bento has stated his belief that Cristiano Ronaldo is still the front-runner in the race for the Ballon d'Or award despite the Seleccao's semi-final exit at Euro 2012.

The Portuguese bowed out of the tournament following defeat to Spain on penalties, ending the 27-year-old's dream of securing his first international trophy.

However, Bento believes that Ronaldo's stellar club form, which saw the forward score 60 goals in all competitions as Real Madrid lifted the Liga title, will be enough to see him pick up the prestigious accolade.

"I consider that Ronaldo's performances at Euro 2012 were good," Bento told RTP. "What I do not think is normal is that we believe that a player alone can solve all problems.

"He is the best in the world and I think that he will be considered the best player in the world this year and that he did not need to win the Euros to be considered that.

"But he is a human being and he was 11 months under intense pressure."

Ronaldo had come under scrutiny after disappointing performances in the group matches against Germany and Denmark, but Bento thinks that the striker was always playing well, even when he did not score.

"We had to secure conditions to win matches whether he was in a good day or a bad one," Bento noted.

"I do not think he had a bad match against Denmark, he had two chances in which he could have decided the match and he was penalised for not taking them.

"I think it is unfair to punish one player for two occasions.

"He was an exemplary captain. He has a high level of professionalism and he shows that in every training."

Ronaldo was set to be the Seleccao's fifth penalty taker against Spain but did not get the chance to test Iker Casillas due to misses from Bruno Alves and Joao Moutinho.

And the 43-year-old coach dismissed criticism of the winger for not moving further up the order, arguing that the Real Madrid ace was a victim of circumstance.
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"Everything may serve as a reason to justify that we lost in the penalty shoot-out," Bento added.

"In other situations, Ronaldo has gone through different experiences. Against Bayern Munich he missed his penalty, while against Chelsea, when he still was at Manchester United, he was the last taker and he scored.

"The order was decided after extra-time and the only mix-up was between Nani and Bruno Alves.

"We could have reached the last penalty with the best taker there. The same thing that happened in the match against Bayern could have happened and maybe we would be saying now that he should have been the last taker."

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