France Reach into Euro 2024 Semi-Finals After Penalty Shootout

France football team celebrates after winning a penalty shootout against Portugal in the Euro 2024 quarterfinals.

France Overcome Portugal in Nail-Biting Penalty Shootout to Reach Euro 2024 Semi-Finals

France secured their place in the Euro 2024 semi-finals with a dramatic 5-3 penalty shootout victory over Portugal following a tense 0-0 draw in Hamburg. Theo Hernandez was the hero, converting the decisive spot-kick after Joao Felix’s miss for Portugal.

The quarterfinal clash was a cagey affair characterized by disciplined defending and few clear-cut chances. Both sides entered the match under immense pressure, with Portugal having recently edged past Slovenia in a shootout and France carrying the weight of expectations as tournament favorites.

First Half: Defensive Masterclass

From the outset, it was clear that both teams prioritized a strong defensive setup. France’s William Saliba and Portugal’s Pepe were colossal at the back, neutralizing any forward threats.

Portugal had better early chances, with Bruno Fernandes testing French goalkeeper Mike Maignan with a powerful strike. Vitinha also saw that Maignan saved his effort well, keeping the game goalless.

Second Half: Missed Opportunities

The second half continued similarly, with both sides struggling to break the deadlock. France’s Randal Kolo Muani came close, his shot deflecting just wide off Ruben Dias. Eduardo Camavinga then had a golden opportunity to put France ahead but dragged his effort wide from close range.

Kylian Mbappe, who played with a protective mask due to a broken nose, was involved in a critical moment midway through the second half. He took a hit to the face from the ball and required several minutes of treatment, visibly struggling with discomfort. Mbappe was eventually substituted in extra time and could not participate in the shootout.

Extra Time: Tensions Rise

As extra time commenced, both teams appeared fatigued. In what he confirmed would be his final European Championship, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo had a chance to clinch the win but skied a cutback from Francisco Conceicao over the bar. The miss encapsulated Portugal’s evening, which was full of effort but needed more precision.

Penalty Shootout: French Nerves of Steel

With the score still 0-0, the match headed to penalties. Cristiano Ronaldo coolly converted Portugal’s first spot-kick, but Joao Felix’s miss, hitting the post, proved decisive. France’s Theo Hernandez stepped up to take the crucial fifth penalty and made no mistake, sending the French contingent into rapturous celebrations.

Post-Match Reactions

France manager Didier Deschamps praised his team’s resilience, particularly highlighting the mental strength required to win a penalty shootout. “The boys showed great character tonight. We had to dig deep, but we got the job done,” he said.

Portugal’s manager, Roberto Martinez, faced criticism for his tactics and squad rotation, particularly for not bringing on attacking talents like Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos. “It’s a tough one to take. We had our chances, but penalties are always a lottery,” Martinez lamented.

Looking Ahead: Semi-Final Clash with Spain

France now advances to face Spain in the semi-finals in Munich. With concerns over Mbappe’s fitness, Deschamps must find a way to unlock Spain’s formidable defense. Despite their struggles, France remains a formidable opponent and will be looking to peak at the right time.

Ronaldo’s Farewell

For Cristiano Ronaldo, this match marks the end of an era. The 39-year-old legend confirmed his last appearance in the European Championship, closing a chapter on a glittering international career.