Monday , July 22 2024

Euro round-up: Vertonghen own goal sends France through, keeper spares Ronaldo’s blushes

France was in a deadlock against Belgium until a Jan Vertonghen own goal the 85th minute gave away the quarterfinals ticket, while Portugal, despite Cristiano Ronaldo missing a penalty in extra time, was saved by keeper Diogo Costa’s heroics in the shootout.

Kylian Mbappe holds off Amadou Onana during the clash between France and Belgium in Duesseldorf on Monday. — AFP/VNA Photo

Anh Đức

DUESSELDORF Another clash of the titans is assured in the quarterfinals of Euro 2024, as France and Portugal both progressed, despite not being at their best.

France were deadlocked against Belgium until a Jan Vertonghen own goal the 85th minute gave France a place in the quarters, while Portugal, despite Cristiano Ronaldo missing a penalty in extra time, were saved by keeper Diogo Costa’s heroics in the shootout.

France

Jan Vertonghen 85′ (OG)

1

Belgium

0

The 2022 World Cup finalists and 2018 World Cup bronze medallists faced off on Monday.

However, despite the billing and fans’ expectations, the match was particularly boring and sleepy for the most part, with supporters on social media comparing it to a game of chess,

The dullness perhaps was because of both teams’ cautious approach, as France and Belgium boasted star players who can capitalise well on mistakes.

But it was not Mbappe, Griezmann, Lukaku nor De Bruyne who decided the game, but the current Euro 2024 top scorer with nine goals: first name Own, last name Goal.

Had it not been for Maximilian Wöber’s own goal in the group stage, France would have already been eliminated, and another own goal helped Didier Deschamps’ men to progress.

After 85 minutes of being repeatedly denied by Belgium’s brave defending and Koen Casteels’ saves, France broke the deadlock. Substitute Randal Kolo Muani’s shot was heading wide but hit the leg of Vertonghen and deflected into the back of the net.

With a mere five minutes left, Domenico Tedesco’s Belgium pushed for the equaliser but trouble Mike Maignan in the French goal. Kylian Mbappe and company again got through to the quarterfinals by the skin of their teeth.

Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa saving Jure Balkovec’s spot kick in the shootout. — AFP/VNA Photo

Portugal

0 (3)

Slovenia

0 (0)

Portugal penalty shootout scorers: C. Ronaldo, B. Fernandes, B. Silva

 

In Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park, an emotional Cristiano Ronaldo tearfully sobbed mid-match, a sight reminiscence of his exit in the 2022 World Cup at the hands of Morocco just 569 days ago.

The 39-year-old squandered multiple chances, and even missed a penalty in extra time which could have seen Portugal through. Amid all the pressure, the Portugal captain broke down in tears and was consoled by his teammates in the extra time break.

Ronaldo’s spot kick was near perfection, aiming at the lower right corner, but Jan Oblak, who had a tendency to concede against Ronaldo at club level, pulled off a fingertip save to deny Portugal’s GOAT.

Goalless after 120 minutes, the match had to be decided by a penalty shootout, where Ronaldo wiped his tears and stepped up to face Oblak in the first kick. CR7 took a small pause before shooting into the bottom left corner, and slain his own demons despite Oblak again guessing the right way.

But the hero of the match was not any Portuguese star striker, but a Portuguese goalkeeper.

Diogo Costa himself saved all three penalties from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic, becoming the first goalkeeper to ever save three penalties in the shootout at the European Championships.

Outside of Ronaldo, both Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva successfully dispatched their spot kick and Portugal progresses to the quarterfinals.

After the match, Cristiano Ronaldo announced that this will be his last European Championship.

“This will be my last Euro, of course,” said the 39-year-old superstar.

“But I’m not moved by this, I’m moved by enthusiasm. I was sorry for the fans. I’ll always give my best for this shirt, whether I miss it or not. And I’ll do this my whole life. You have to take responsibility,” Ronaldo added. — VNS

Euro round-up: England survive Slovakia scare, merciless Spain eliminates Georgia

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