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Euro 2024: France kick Portugal OUT on penalties after arduous stalemate, secure semis spot against Spain

France secured a spot in the Euro 2024 semi-finals after defeating Portugal on penalties (5-3) in Friday's quarter-final match at a packed Volksparkstadion in Hamburg, setting up an exciting semi-final clash against Spain.

football Euro 2024: France kick Portugal OUT on penalties after arduous stalemate, secure semis spot against Spain snt
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First Published Jul 6, 2024, 8:21 AM IST

France secured a spot in the Euro 2024 semi-finals after defeating Portugal on penalties (5-3) in Friday's quarter-final match at a packed Volksparkstadion in Hamburg, setting up an exciting semi-final clash against Spain. In a tense game, which was only the second European Championship match on record (since 1980) to not have a single shot from inside either box in the first half, both teams created a few moments apiece in the second half that could have won it for them.

The game took until an hour had passed to suddenly spring into life following a dour opening period. Portugal struck first, forcing back-to-back saves from Mike Maignan, first from a João Cancelo shot, and then from a Ronaldo backheel. At the other end, Ruben Dias made a sliding block to stop a Kolo Muani shot, followed by an excellent chance to score scuffed wide by Eduardo Camavinga.

Given that France hadn’t scored from open play in the entire tournament and Portugal’s last knockout game ended 0-0 in normal time, extra time seemed inevitable. Cristiano Ronaldo had a gilt-edged chance to put his side ahead in the first period of extra time, but instead blasted his shot well over. Shortly afterwards, Ousmane Dembele skipped away from Pepe and found himself in a great position to shoot, but instead he passed to Kylian Mbappe, who couldn’t convert.

Rafael Leao had a shot well blocked in the first period, and after the break João Félix hit the side netting with another attempt on goal. There was superb defending throughout the game, but simply not enough cutting edge in attack, leading to penalties.

Dembele scored the opening spot-kick and was matched by Ronaldo for Portugal. Youssouf Fofana netted his attempt, and again Portugal also hit the mark with Bernardo Silva. Jules Kounde stepped up for France’s third and duly converted, but João Félix was the first to miss when he hit the post.

France's 21-year-old substitute Bradley Barcola showed great composure to score under pressure. Nuno Mendes then hit his shot right into the top corner to keep Portugal in the game. However, it was Milan’s Theo Hernández who scored the winning penalty, sealing France's place in the semi-finals.

France is set to play in its sixth European Championship semi-final, facing Spain in Munich on July 9. Only Germany, with eight appearances, has contested more semi-finals in the tournament’s history.

Additionally, France has reached at least the semi-finals in four of the last five major tournaments (World Cup/Euros), falling short only at Euro 2020 in the round of 16. Since Euro 2016, this achievement marks at least twice as many semi-final appearances as any other European nation, with Croatia, England, and Spain each reaching two.

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