End of an Era: Ronaldo and Pepe Bow Out in Heartbreak, Portugal Falls to France in Penalties at Their Final Euro

In a nerve-wracking quarterfinal clash at EURO 2024, the French team triumphed over Portugal in a penalty shootout, 5-3, following a 0-0 deadlock that persisted through 120 minutes of play. Moving forward to the semi-finals, Coach Didier Deschamps and his squad are set to face Spain. Reflecting on their previous encounter at EURO, France and Portugal had delivered an exhilarating match with a 2-2 draw. This high-scoring affair occurred during the final round of the EURO 2020 group stage, a time when both teams had already secured their progression in the tournament.

In the EURO 2024 quarter-finals taking place at 2:00 a.m. on July 6, France and Portugal both played very closely, placing emphasis on defense and limiting mistakes.

Thắng Bồ Đào Nha trên chấm luân lưu, Pháp gặp Tây Ban Nha ở bán kết- Ảnh 1.

The French team only accelerated the pace in the first 10 minutes, when N’Golo Kante and Edouardo Camavinga both stepped up to put pressure, confusing the Portuguese defense. However, when Kylian Mbappe was tightly marked, and Randal Kolo Muani was clumsy in choosing where to fall, France could not reach Diogo Costa’s goal.

France’s clearest opportunity in the first half came from Theo Hernandez’s long-range shot in the 20th minute. On the other hand, Portugal also pushed the team to attack, especially putting pressure on Rafael Leao’s left wing.

But against France’s solid defense, coach Roberto Martinez’s students had no chance. Cristiano Ronaldo was closely marked in the first half, while Bernardo Silva or Bruno Fernandes could not beat the French players in duels to create opportunities. Notably in the first half, Ronaldo for the first time at EURO 2024 ceded the right to take a free kick to his teammates in the 42nd minute, but Bruno squandered the opportunity when he shot over the crossbar.

The second half took place with a very different rhythm from the first half, when France and Portugal both accepted more risks to find goals. In the 61st minute, Joao Cancelo flicked the outside cheek to put Bruno in front of goalkeeper Mike Magnan, but the subsequent one-touch shot of the midfielder playing for Manchester United failed to beat the French goalkeeper.

Thắng Bồ Đào Nha trên chấm luân lưu, Pháp gặp Tây Ban Nha ở bán kết- Ảnh 2.

2 minutes later, Leao dribbled skillfully on the left wing and then released the ball to Vitinha, but he could not beat Magnan. Even when Ronaldo ran in to kick in with his heel, Magnan still closed the corner well to clear the danger.

After that, the game turned in France’s favor with a series of opportunities missed by coach Didier Deschamps’ students. In the 66th minute, Kolo Muani dribbled straight down the middle, bounced off the wall with one touch with Jules Kounde and then faced Costa, but the striker’s extremely fast shot could not beat Ruben Dias’s retreat to cover the block. France’s offense became even brighter when Ousmane Dembele entered the field. In the 70th minute, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder stretched and hit Pepe’s foot, changing direction and sending the ball straight to Camavinga’s position. But it is very difficult to believe that at a distance of 5 meters, Camavinga shot wide of the post.

Despite creating many opportunities in the second half of the second half, France could not take advantage of the success when neither Mbappe, Kante or Dembele finished well enough.

Without a winner or loser after 90 minutes, the two teams entered extra time. Once again, France and Portugal demonstrated a tight, calculating style of football, because neither team wanted to make mistakes. In the 93rd minute, young talent Francisco Conceicao did the hardest part, which was to dribble past the French defender and then stretch it back to Ronaldo. But in an unaccompanied position, the 39-year-old striker kicked into the stands. Less than 5 minutes later, France responded when Dembele dribbled the ball at speed and released it to Mbappe, but the French star couldn’t shoot the ball past Pepe’s tackle.

The score was 0-0 after 120 minutes forcing the two teams into a penalty shootout. France was the more brave team, successfully executing all 5 kicks, while Joao Felix missed, causing Portugal to be eliminated from the game (Ronaldo successfully kicked the first kick).

Winning 5-3 on penalties, France reached the semi-finals of EURO 2024 to meet Spain.

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