Epic Penalties Drama for Ronaldo; Portugal, France Advance in Euro 2024

Slovenia's goalkeeper Jan Oblak blocks a penalty kick by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (7) during a round of sixteen match at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Epic penalties drama for Ronaldo ends with Portugal beating Slovenia in a Euro 2024 shootout

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A game of epic personal drama and tears for Cristiano Ronaldo ended with his Portugal making the European Championship quarterfinals after beating Slovenia in a penalty shootout on Monday.

The last-16 game went the distance because Ronaldo’s extra-time spot kick in the 114th minute was saved by Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak — leaving him in tears and consoled by every teammate before restarting play. Regulation and extra time finished 0-0.

When they went to penalties, Ronaldo scored his and Portugal’s first, and teammate Diogo Costa saved all three of Slovenia’s kicks from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbič.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after a round of sixteen match between Portugal and Slovenia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva also scored for Portugal to seal the shootout 3-0 with two kicks to spare.


“I was sad and now I’m overjoyed. This is what football gives you,” Ronaldo said in translated comments in a post-game interview. “You cannot explain it.”

Portugal will face France in the quarterfinals on Friday in Hamburg, a rematch of the 2016 final that Portugal won in Paris after Ronaldo went off injured early.

Costa had already made his first save when Ronaldo walked up to take Portugal’s first kick of the shootout, and placed it perfectly low beyond Oblak diving to his right.

Ronaldo looked apologetically to the massed Portugal fans behind the goal and put his hands together as if in prayer. The fans responded with a bellowing shout of “Siuuuu” – their soccer icon’s trademark goal scream.

Portugal’s goalkeeper Diogo Costa saves the ball during penalties of a round of sixteen match between Portugal and Slovenia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Costa answered the rest of those prayers with as good a penalty shootout as any goalkeeper ever had. Then he was in tears, too.

“This is probably the best game of my life,” Costa said in translated comments. “I focused as hard as I could. I breathed in several times and went with my gut.”

A half-hour earlier, Ronaldo was distraught and crying at halftime in extra time after his penalty was saved by Oblak, diving to his left to push the ball against a post.

“We all know that Cris is the hardest worker. I understand how frustrated he is,” Costa said. “For me, it’s an honor to play on the same team.”

The personal duel between Ronaldo and Oblak was compelling enough merely in regulation time.

Portugal players celebrate their win against Slovenia during a round of sixteen match between Portugal and Slovenia at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

It was an intensely frustrating first 90 for Ronaldo, who was — remarkably — still looking for his first goal at Euro 2024.

After three free kicks and two mistimed headers, the Portugal star seemed sure to score with his first clear shooting chance in open play.

It came in the 89th, when he ran clear on goal with the ball passed perfectly into his stride. The left-foot shot was low and powerful but Oblak’s block was better. Ronaldo held out his arms in exasperation yet again.

The intense drama for the Portugal superstar almost overwhelmed the troubled evening for Slovenia’s emerging star.

Benjamin Šeško had golden chances to win the game, in the 62nd and 115th minutes, going one on one with Costa after racing past 41-year-old defender Pepe.

The first was a weak shot that screwed wide of goal, and the second was powerful and accurate but saved by the outstretched boot of Costa.


Mbappé and France into Euro 2024 quarterfinals after Kolo Muani’s late goal beats Belgium 1-0

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Another frustrating match for Kylian Mbappé. Another underwhelming performance by France at the European Championship.

Didier Deschamps isn’t concerned — his team is into the quarterfinals.

“It’s beautiful,” the France coach said after Les Bleus relied on the ninth own-goal scored at Euro 2024 to squeeze past Belgium 1-0 in the round of 16 on Monday.

A heavyweight match between neighbors and teams ranked No. 2 (France) and No. 3 (Belgium) failed to live up to its billing, and the nature of the only goal proved to be fitting.

Randal Kolo Muani, on as a second-half substitute, turned in the area and sent in a shot in the 85th minute that deflected off Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen and looped over stranded goalkeeper Koen Casteels.

“I was lucky enough to get my shot on target,” he said of his decisive intervention. “It was blocked but it went in. We’re very, very happy and very, very proud.”

Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels, right, allows an own goal by Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen during a round of sixteen match between France and Belgium at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Duesseldorf, Germany, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

UEFA thought differently about the destination of Kolo Muani’s shot and put it down as an own-goal, the latest in a tournament full of them.

It’s the second own-goal earned by France while there has also been a penalty by Mbappé. It means a France player has yet to score from open play.

“Even if today that goal was enough to get us to the quarterfinals, we have the capability to score more,” Deschamps said.

France will play Portugal or Slovenia in the last eight on Friday.

Mbappé, again wearing a mask to protect his broken nose sustained against Austria in France’s opening match, had five of France’s 20 shots but none were on target. He played mostly on the left wing and was well-marshalled by a Belgian defensive set-up that included Kevin De Bruyne — the team’s most creative player — deployed as a deep-lying midfielder.

Kylian Mbappe of France challenges for the ball with Belgium’s Yannick Carrasco during a round of sixteen match between France and Belgium at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Duesseldorf, Germany, Monday, July 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

De Bruyne had more clearing headers than incisive passes before being pushed further forward for the final half-hour of the game. Back in his favored position, he created Belgium’s best chance when he played through Yannick Carrasco, who took too long over a shot that was blocked by France left back Theo Hernandez.

The match-winner, instead, was Kolo Muani, whose last big moment at a major tournament came when he bore down on goal in the last seconds of extra time in the 2022 World Cup final against Argentina. His shot was saved by Emi Martinez, when a goal would surely have won the title for France.

France’s overall display will do little to stop the growing dissent among many of its fans who feel more can come from a talented bunch of players headlined by Mbappé, playing on the day he officially became a Real Madrid player.

Deschamps, however, was happy with his pragmatic tactics, saying: “We were intelligent, playing the waiting game and not falling into their trap.”

Mbappé will be playing in his first ever quarterfinal at the European Championship, with France having lost on a penalty shootout to Switzerland in the last 16 at the last tournament in 2021.

As for the Belgians, they head home after a fairly miserable Euro 2024, during which the players were jeered loudly by their own fans following a 0-0 draw with Ukraine at the end of the group stage.

Against France, they were intent on not leaving the game too open for the quick French attackers and the deployment of De Bruyne in a deeper role helped in that regard, even if it limited the team’s attacking options.


The tactic would have been a masterstroke had Belgium won. Unfortunately for coach Domenico Tedesco, it didn’t.

“To go into detail tonight,” he said, “is difficult for me.”