Sports

France edge Portugal in dramatic penalty shootout to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals

In a nail-biting Euro 2024 quarter-final, France triumphed over Portugal with a 5-3 victory on penalties following a goalless 120 minutes.

Theo Hernandez delivered the decisive penalty, ensuring Kylian Mbappe’s France advanced to the semi-finals. This match, held in Hamburg, will likely be remembered as Cristiano Ronaldo’s final appearance in the tournament.

Penalty Shootout Success for France

France displayed precision under pressure, converting all their penalties. Joao Felix’s miss, where he hit the post, was the turning point that sealed Portugal’s fate. This victory marks a significant moment for France, overcoming their past shootout heartbreaks in recent major tournaments. They had lost the 2022 World Cup final to Argentina and the 2020 Euro round of 16 to Switzerland on penalties.

Mbappe’s Challenging Night

Mbappe, who had missed a crucial penalty against Switzerland in the previous Euros, was substituted midway through extra time. He continues to search for his best form in the competition, hampered by a protective mask for his broken nose. Despite his struggles, he will have another opportunity to shine in the semi-final against Spain.

Ronaldo’s Likely Farewell

At 39, Ronaldo’s sixth European Championship ended without adding to his record tally of 14 goals. He successfully scored his penalty but couldn’t change Portugal’s fortunes, marking a probable end to his storied Euro career. Portugal’s inability to score in over six hours of football sealed their fate, with a similar penalty shootout win over Slovenia in the last 16 proving insufficient momentum.

A Tense and Tactical Encounter

Neither France nor Portugal had showcased their full potential in the tournament. France, relying on a strong defence, struggled to maintain possession and intensity. The match saw brief moments of excitement, particularly in the second half when Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes and Vitinha forced key saves from France’s Mike Maignan.

Also Read: Spain vs Germany: Dramatic Merino goal sends Spain to Euro 2024 semifinals

Key Moments

  • Maignan’s Heroics: Maignan was determined to keep a clean sheet, making crucial saves to deny Fernandes, Vitinha, and Ronaldo.
  • France’s Defence: France’s defence remained solid, with key interventions, such as Ruben Dias’s vital interception, preventing Kolo Muani from scoring.
  • Substitutions: Deschamps’s tactical changes, including bringing on Ousmane Dembele, almost paid off when Dembele set up a golden chance for Eduardo Camavinga.

Looking Ahead

France now prepares for a semi-final clash with Spain, carrying the momentum of their shootout success. For Portugal, it’s a time for reflection, particularly on their offensive struggles despite having seasoned talents like Ronaldo.

This quarter-final will be remembered for its tense atmosphere, strategic play, and the emotional farewells of football legends, setting the stage for an exciting conclusion to Euro 2024.

Samuel Bolaji

Samuel Bolaji holds a Master of Letters in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is an experienced researcher, multimedia journalist, writer, and Editor. He is currently the Editor of Arbiterz.

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