Euro 2024, Football

Euro 2024 – Portugal vs Slovenia: Portuguese set up quarter-final with France after winning on penalties

Despite the 37-year-old’s missed penalty attempt in extra time, Cristiano Ronaldo’s tears turned to joy as Portugal defeated Slovenia on penalties to advance to a quarterfinal matchup against France in the Euro 2024.

A cry of sorrow After goalkeeper Diogo Costa saved saves from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec, and Benjamin Verbic to send Portugal through the shootout, Ronaldo converted his first attempt in the shootout after Jan Oblak brilliantly saved his penalty in the 105th minute. Ronaldo needed to be comforted by teammates after that.

After Bruno Fernandes had already scored, Costa’s heroics set up Bernardo Silva for the winning goal. Deep into extra time, Benjamin Sesko had made an equally important one-on-one save, and Slovenia had gone dangerously close to pulling off a historic upset.

But as was to be expected, Ronaldo dominated the game. The former forward for Real Madrid and Manchester United was determined to make an impression at Euro 2024 after going blank in the group stage and making an immediate emotional impact.

Throughout the 120 minutes, he had four unsuccessful attempts at goal, which sparked furious emotions. However, just before the halfway mark of extra time, Oblak rejected him from the spot, leaving him devastated instead of angry.

Oblak had already denied Ronaldo in the 89th minute, but the Slovenian custodian wasn’t the only one who excelled as the underdogs held Roberto Martinez’s star-studded team at bay for extended stretches of time, showcasing both defensive tenacity and sporadic bursts of offensive menace.

It was up to Costa to secure Portugal’s redemption for Ronaldo. The Porto custodian produced three consecutive saves in the shootout to set up a last-eight match that will see Ronaldo take on Kylian Mbappe in Hamburg on Friday night. Costa’s save against Sesko was crucial.

Cristiano Ronaldo said: “Sadness at the start is joy at the end. That’s what football is. Moments, inexplicable moments.

“A penalty to give the team the lead. I didn’t manage it. Oblak made a good save. I have to see the penalty, I don’t know if I shot well or badly, but I haven’t missed once all year, and when I needed it most, Oblak saved it.

“I think Portugal deserved it because we had more authority. Slovenia spent almost the entire game defending. It’s very difficult and the whole team is to be congratulated, especially our goalkeeper, who made three very good saves.”

He added: “Portugal was always on top of it, pressing hard, but for one reason or another, didn’t score.

“The pitch wasn’t great, it was very tough but I’d say all things considered, we were better. We deservedly reached the quarter-finals.

“We’re still very excited, we want to enjoy our game, give the fans some joy and happiness and this is our life. This is how we live.”

Diogo Costa said: “This is probably the best game of my life.

“I am focused on doing what I had to do. I went with my gut feeling. Of course, we had analysed the penalty-takers, but players change and they change how they shoot.

“It’s tremendous emotion. This was a tough match. We knew what they were going to do and they did it perfectly.

“I had to be very focused throughout the game. I had to wait for the best opportunity to help the team and that is what I was focused on. It was a very tough match. Goalkeepers sometimes barely touch the ball, but this was worth it.

“I get strength from my family, they are my bedrock. My family, a lot of work and a lot of devotion. Whatever comes, we will be ready. A team like ours must be ready to face anything and we will do it.”

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