MADRID (AP) " The disappointments have been piling up for Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao this year, and the latest nearly cost his team a win in the Champions League.
With Madrid leading 10-man Sporting Lisbon 1-0 on Tuesday in Portugal, Coentrao was called for a hand-ball " one of the most unusual penalty calls ever.
He was defending Joel Campbell when the ball appeared to bounce off the hand of the Sporting forward, prompting Coentrao to immediately raise both of his arms to demand a foul. But the moment his arms went up, Campbell attempted a back heel pass and the ball glanced off Coentrao's right arm just inside the penalty area.
The referee blew the whistle and pointed to the penalty spot, with Coentrao looking on in awe.
"The penalty was a very bad mistake on my part," Coentrao said. "I have to be more focused in a situation like that. I shouldn't be calling for the hand ball. I did it because I thought it was, but I can't be doing that."
Adrien Silva converted the 80th-minute penalty to even the match at 1-1, and Madrid needed an 87th-minute goal by Karim Benzema to salvage a victory that left the defending champions with a chance to still finish first in Group F when it hosts leader Borussia Dortmund in December.
Coentrao had entered the match just nine minutes before the penalty, replacing the injured Marcelo.
"Nothing is going my way now, I don't know what's happening," the 28-year-old left back said. "I have to change this. I have to work hard to see if my life changes here, because it hasn't been easy. I keep asking myself what's happening but I don't know what's wrong."
Earlier this year, an injury that kept Coentrao from playing for Portugal at the European Championship. Then there were poor performances that left him on the bench at Real Madrid. And now the embarrassing penalty.
The rare minutes on Tuesday gave Coentrao a chance to turn things around, but he knew he failed to capitalize on it.
"It'll be very tough to get playing time here," he said. "Marcelo is the best left back in the world right now. I have to make the most of the minutes I'm given. I feel bad right now and can only change that through hard work."
Coentrao was signed by Madrid in 2011 but played on a loan with Monaco last season. He was recalled by Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane but played sparingly this season.
"I have to show on the field that I deserve to be playing for Madrid, which is the best club in the world," Coentrao said. "If I keep playing like this, I can't play here."
Coentrao was set to play with eventual champion Portugal at Euro 2016 but was dropped from the squad because of a thigh injury sustained in training with Monaco just before the tournament.
"It's been a difficult moment in my life," he said. "I had a very serious injury and was able to return, but on the field things are not going my way. I don't know why. The only thing I can do is keep working to change this."
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This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings