France edge out Portugal on penalties, Spain outclass hosts Germany

 

Kylian Mbappe of France
Kylian Mbappe of France controls the ball during the UEFA EURO 2024 quarter-final match between Portugal and France at Volksparkstadion on July 5, 2024 in Hamburg, Germany. 

Theo Hernandez scored the winning kick as Kylian Mbappe's France edged a tense Euro 2024 quarter-final clash with Portugal 5-3 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes on Friday in what will likely be remembered as Cristiano Ronaldo's last-ever match at the tournament. 


France were successful with all their penalties as they advance to a last-four showdown with Spain, while Portugal's Joao Felix was the only player to miss, sending his team's third kick against the post.




It was overdue success in a shoot-out for France after they lost the 2022 World Cup final on penalties to Argentina and went out of the last Euros three years ago in the same way, against Switzerland in the last 16.


They also lost on penalties in the last major tournament in Germany, going down to Italy in the final of the 2006 World Cup.


Mbappe, who missed the crucial kick against the Swiss, was already off the pitch by the time this shoot-out came around, having been replaced by Bradley Barcola midway through extra time.


Barcola, Ousmane Dembele, Youssouf Fofana and Jules Kounde also scored from the spot for France.


"I am proud of my players. Even if we are not doing everything perfectly we don't give up," said France coach Didier Deschamps.


"Once again we are in the semi-finals. I will savour this a little even if we have another game coming up."


Mbappe endured a frustrating evening as he continues to search for his best form in the competition but appears inhibited while wearing a mask to protect his broken nose suffered against Austria in France's opening group game.


At least he will get another chance to star in the semi-final, while Ronaldo, at 39, appears to have played at a Euros for the last time.


This has been his sixth European Championship, but he failed to add to his tournament record tally of 14 goals in Germany after misfiring in all of Portugal's five matches.


He scored his penalty, Portugal's first, but Roberto Martinez's team go out having failed to find the net in over six hours of football.


Elsewhere, Germany's Euro 2024 dream ended after Spain secured a place in the semi-finals with a 2-1 win over the tournament host thanks to a last-gasp Mikel Merino winner at the end of extra time.


After a fiery yet goalless first half, Spain's Dani Olmo latched onto an inch-perfect pass from Spanish wunderkind Lamine Yamal to give La Roja the lead on 51 minutes.


Niclas Fuellkrug struck the post with 14 minutes remaining but with the hosts staring at an early exit, Florian Wirtz slammed in a Joshua Kimmich knock-down in the 89th minute to take the game to extra time.


With a minute remaining in extra time and the game looking set for penalties, Olmo lofted a cross for Merino, who headed Spain into the semi-finals and on course for a record-breaking fourth Euros crown.


Germany's exit brings to an end the hosts' hope of a summer fairytale Euros victory after a decade of poor performances at major tournaments, while also lowering the curtain on Toni Kroos' stellar career.


The battle between the two most successful Euros nations, with three titles apiece, was billed as a final come early, with the in-form Spaniards against Nagelsmann's reborn hosts.


Spain nominated Kroos as Germany's most dangerous player pre-match, and the midfielder had a huge, even if unintended impact early, colliding with Pedri, who was then subbed off with a leg injury for Olmo.


Germany, with the oldest squad at Euro 2024, struggled with Spain's speed during the first half, frequently coming into duels a fraction too late, but the two best chances of the opening half fell to the hosts—and both to Kai Havertz.


The Arsenal forward leapt highest to head a cross directly at Unai Simon early and then scuffed a tame shot at Simon later in the half with just the keeper to beat.


After a goalless first half, Nagelsmann took off surprise starter Emre Can for the pink-haired Robert Andrich, while the ineffective Leroy Sane was hooked in place of Wirtz.


The substitute who would make his mark was Olmo as he gave Spain the lead six minutes into the second half, slicing through the sleepy Germany defence to perfectly place a Yamal pass past Manuel Neuer in the bottom left corner.


The goal kicked Germany into gear with Wirtz particularly dangerous.


Spain's Dani Olmo scored the 1st goal of the UEFA Euro 20204 quarter-final match against Germany in Stuttgart, Germany, Friday, July 5, 2024. /CFP


The Bayer Leverkusen starlet linked with Fuellkrug on the counter with a quarter of an hour remaining but the striker, under heavy attention from the Spanish defence, could only hit the post.


With 10 minutes remaining Nagelsmann made his final substitution, bringing veteran Thomas Mueller from the bench. But it was younger teammate Wirtz who made the difference, skimming a Joshua Kimmich header across the grass and in at the far post in the final minute, sending the game to extra time.


Mikel Oyarzabal, on for Williams, curled a 104th-minute shot just wide of the post and Wirtz did the same a minute later with the goal beckoning.


Germany appealed strongly but in vain for a penalty in the second period of extra time, after a goal-bound Jamal Musiala shot clearly connected with Marc Cucurella's outstretched hand.


After the penalty drama, Olmo curled in a cross for Merino, who leapt high to head the ball past Neuer and put Spain into the next round. 

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