Monday , July 22 2024

France beat Portugal on penalties to set up Euros semi-final against Spain


France downed Portugal on penalties in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals following a goalless draw on Friday to set up a last-four meeting with Spain.

A largely dull 120 minutes saw both sides struggle to create clear chances in Hamburg, before Joao Felix was the only player to miss in the shoot-out and Theo Hernandez netted the winning spot-kick.

Theo Hernandez of France celebrates after scoring the final penalty with France goalkeeper Mike Maignan after a quarter final match between Portugal and France at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, July 5, 2024. Photo by AP

Theo Hernandez of France celebrates after scoring the final penalty with France goalkeeper Mike Maignan after a quarter final match between Portugal and France at the Euro 2024 football tournament in Hamburg, Germany, July 5, 2024. Photo by AP

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missed the crucial kick against the Swiss, was already off the pitch by the time this shoot-out came around, having been replaced by Bradley Barcola midway through extra time.

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

“I am proud of my players. Even if we are not doing everything perfectly we don’t give up,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.

“Once again we are in the semi-finals. I will savour this a little even if we have another game coming up.”

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.

“In the same way that it was maybe cruel for Slovenia in the last 16, today it was cruel for us. That’s football,” Bernardo Silva told CNN.

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

Euro 2024: France vs Portugal

Frustrating night for Mbappe

Randal Kolo Muani and Eduardo Camavinga came into the France line-up, while Antoine Griezmann was deployed as a number 10 behind the attackers.

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, a contest which never caught fire but 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 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 drifted 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.

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