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Euro 2024: Portugal beat Slovenia 3-0 on penalties, set up quarter-final vs France


Euro 2024: Portugal beat Slovenia 3-0 on penalties, set up quarter-final vs France

Story from Uji A. ILIYASU

Portugal beat Slovenia 3-0 on penalty shootouts after a goalless draw in the ongoing Euro 2024, now to meet France in quarter final.

At first, a sobbing Ronaldo had to be consoled by team-mates after Jan Oblak brilliantly saved his penalty in the 105th minute.

But the star converted Portugal’s first effort in the shootout as goalkeeper Diogo Costa made saves from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic to send them through.

Costa’s heroics allowed Bernardo Silva to convert the winning kick after Bruno Fernandes had also scored, and came after a similarly crucial one-on-one save from Benjamin Sesko deep in extra-time as Slovenia came agonisingly close to an historic upset.

Predictably, though, it was Ronaldo who dominated the encounter. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward was on a mission to open his account at Euro 2024 having blanked in the group stage and cut an emotionally-charged figure from the start.

His efforts on goal over the course of the 120 minutes, including four unsuccessful free-kicks, all prompted animated reactions but his anger was replaced by devastation after Oblak denied him from the spot shortly before the halfway point of extra-time.

Ronaldo has attempted 60 shots from free-kicks at major tournaments for Portugal and only scored once.

Oblak had also saved from Ronaldo in the 89th minute and the goalkeeper was not the only Slovenia player who shone as the underdogs kept Roberto Martinez’s star-studded side at bay for long periods, demonstrating defensive doggedness and occasional flashes of attacking threat at the other end.

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Diogo Costa is the first goalkeeper in history to save three penalties in a shootout in a European Championship tie.

For Portugal, it was left to Costa to ensure Ronaldo’s redemption, the Porto goalkeeper following up his vital save from Sesko with a hat-trick of stops in the shootout to set up a last-eight tie which will pit Ronaldo against Kylian Mbappe in Hamburg on Friday night.

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.”

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