Cristiano Ronaldo’s last Euro ends in heartbreak as France wins in penalty shootout

Heartbroken Cristiano Ronaldo with Pepe and France celebrating after win
Heartbroken Cristiano Ronaldo with Pepe and France celebrating after win (PC: Euro)

Cristiano Ronaldo and his team faced a devastating defeat in the second quarter-final of the Euro 2024 as France emerged victorious, defeating Portugal 0-0 (5-4) in a penalty shootout. Joao Felix’s crucial penalty attempt struck the post, sealing Portugal’s fate. This defeat marked a tragic end of Ronaldo and Pepe’s last Euro campaign, with France set to face Spain in the semi-final.

France played with high pressure and possession, while Portugal maintained a solid defensive, strategy. Throughout the first half, neither team managed to create significant chances. Raphael Leao stood out as the lone bright spot, making several attacking threats in the final third. Despite his efforts with quick runs, dribbles and quality crosses, Portugal’s attackers, including Ronaldo, failed to convert those opportunities. Kylian Mbappe was involved in the build-up play but struggled to find the back of the net. The first half ended goalless at the Volksparkstadion Stadium in Hamburg, Germany.

In the second half, Portugal initiated counter-attacks but continued to struggle against the French defence. In the 59th minute, Leao cut in from the left flank but missed the target. Bruno Fernandes and Vitinha’s efforts were brilliantly saved by Mike Maignan. At the other end, France’s Kolo Muani made an impressive run, but his shot was deflected by Ruben Dias. Didier Deschamps’s team kept the pressure on, with Camavinga missing a chance to break the deadlock. Just before the end of regulation time, Mbappe’s curling shot was comfortably saved by Diogo Costa. It led to a goalless draw, followed by extra time.

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Joao Felix after the penalty miss and Mbappe with treatment for nose
Joao Felix after the penalty miss and Mbappe with treatment for nose (PC: X)

Ronaldo, popularly known as CR7, had a golden opportunity in the 93rd minute. However, his shot from inside the six-yard box went over the bar despite being unmarked. Francisco Conceicao was very impressive since his arrival in the second half. He continuously came up with some vicious deliveries along with pace and quick dribbles. A few minutes later, Ousmane Dembele made a fantastic run, passing the ball to Mbappe. His shot was blocked. It left him frustrated. Before the second half of extra time, France substituted Mbappe with Barcola, and Joao Felix replaced Leao for Portugal. However, neither substitution made a significant impact as the match headed towards a penalty shootout. Both teams had 33 attempts on goal, with only nine on target after 120 minutes.

In the 2016 Euro quarter-final, Portugal had won on penalties (5-3) against Poland and eventually clinched the title for the first time in their history. Fans were hopeful of a repeat success, but this time, Portugal fell short, losing 3-5 to France. Diogo Costa could not replicate his previous magic from the game against Slovenia.

The dramatic finish saw France celebrate their hard-fought victory. Indeed, Portugal were left reflecting on missed opportunities. Ronaldo finished the tournament with only one assist (and two penalty shootout goals), prompting scrutiny of coach Roberto Martinez’s decision to include him in every match. As the tournament progresses, France will aim to carry their momentum forward but Mbappe’s inclusion in the next game might be in danger as he did not look very comfortable while getting substituted, and was seen having treatment in the dugout for his nose.

Also Read: EURO 2024: Spain stun Germany in thriller of Stuttgart to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals