France beat Portugal on penalties to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals

France’s midfielder #06 Eduardo Camavinga and Portugal’s forward #07 Cristiano fight for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2024 quarter-final football match between Portugal and France at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg on July 5, 2024. AFP

Theo Hernandez scored the winning kick as Kylian Mbappe’s France edged a tense Euro 2024 quarter-final clash with Portugal 5-3 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes on Friday in what will likely be remembered as Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-ever match at the tournament.

France were successful with all their penalties as they advance to a last-four showdown with Spain, while Portugal’s Joao Felix was the only player to miss, sending his team’s third kick against the post.

It is overdue success in a shoot-out for France after they lost the 2022 World Cup final on penalties to Argentina and went out of the last Euros three years ago in the same way, against Switzerland in the last 16.

They also lost on penalties in the last major tournament in Germany, going down to Italy in the final of the 2006 World Cup.

Mbappe, who missed the crucial kick against the Swiss, was already off the pitch by the time this shoot-out came around, having been replaced by Bardley Barcola midway through extra time.

Barcola, Ousmane Dembele, Youssouf Fofana and Jules Kounde also scored from the spot for France.

Mbappe endured a frustrating evening as he continues to search for his best form in the competition but appears inhibited while wearing a mask to protect the nose he broke against Austria in France’s opening game.

At least he will get another chance to star in the semi-final, while Ronaldo, at 39, appears to have played at a Euros for the last time.

This has been his sixth European Championship, but he failed to add to his tournament record tally of 14 goals in Germany after misfiring in all of Portugal’s five matches.

He scored his penalty, Portugal’s first, but Roberto Martinez’s team go out having failed to find the net in over six hours of football.

They beat Slovenia on penalties in the last 16 after a goalless draw, but this time fell short in what was a disappointing game in Hamburg.

Neither of these teams had played anywhere close to their potential in their previous games at the tournament, but especially France, who got this far without any of their players scoring a goal in open play.

Frustrating night for Mbappe

Randal Kolo Muani’s reward for coming off the bench to force the late own goal which allowed Les Bleus to beat Belgium in the last round was a place in the starting line-up.

Eduardo Camavinga also came in, replacing the suspended Adrien Rabiot in midfield, while Antoine Griezmann was deployed as a number 10 behind Kolo Muani and Mbappe.

France have been happy to sit off teams and rely on an excellent defence, while also struggling to play with any real intensity when in possession.

They had less of the ball in this game, an often disappointing contest, which did briefly come to life in the second half.

Portugal began to cause problems with runners getting into the box from midfield, first when Bruno Fernandes had a shot saved by Mike Maignan just after the hour mark.

Vitinha was next to try his luck moments later as he got on the end of Rafael Leao’s low centre. Maignan, determined not to concede a first goal in open play at the competition, saved his shot and reacted quickly to stop Ronaldo back-heeling the ball in from close range.

France responded as Kolo Muani played a one-two with Kounde and went for goal, only for a vital Ruben Dias interception to save Portugal.

Deschamps then withdrew Antoine Griezmann and sent on Dembele, who wasted no time in setting up a golden chance for Camavinga which the midfielder put wide.

After that, the game began to drift inevitably towards extra time, in which Ronaldo squandered a good opportunity from substitute Francisco Conceicao’s cutback.

That was more than Mbappe managed, and France’s captain watched the end of extra time from the bench, as Maignan denied Nuno Mendes at the very end of 120 minutes and penalties followed.

The shoot-out unfolded at the Portugal end of the Volksparkstadion, with Maignan not managing to make a save but not needing to.

Portugal’s Diogo Costa saved three Slovenia penalties in the last round, but could not stop any this time.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News