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Ronaldo Heads Home: Dreary Portugal Loses to Even Drearier France

The match was decided by a penalty shootout.

Portugal's clashes with France at the EUROs are typically low-scoring but highly entertaining and emotional. Twice — in 2000 and 2016—the matches went into extra time, ending dramatically. Twenty-four years ago, a phantom penalty sent France to the final, and 16 years later, Eder’s completely unexpected goal gave Portugal the title.

France was the favorite both times. The same was true before this match, although both teams have struggled. One team finds scoring hard, and the other concedes goals too readily. So, France was expected to advance to the semifinals out of the two evils.

Both teams knew that if they won, they would face Spain. While the teams didn’t start cautiously, a certain nervousness was present. The French controlled the ball and imposed their game but couldn’t capitalize on it. Portugal created a few chances towards the end of the first half, but Cristiano Ronaldo struggled.

The second half saw a slight change. Bruno Fernandes took center stage. Between the 61st and 63rd minutes, Portugal should have scored three times in a row. First, Mike Maignan saved Fernandes' shot. Then João Cancelo narrowly missed, and immediately after, Vitinha's shot was stopped by Maignan in a miraculous save.

The French woke up and pushed the game away from their goal. They controlled the latter part of regular time. But true to their tradition, the match went into extra time and eventually to a penalty shootout. This trend of quarterfinals going into extra time continued, with Spain and Germany also needing extra time but not a shootout.

Portugal and France couldn't solve each other during regular or extra time, so the match went to penalties. France converted all their attempts, while Portugal's João Félix hit the post. Now fans can look forward to a thrilling Spain vs. France semifinal. At least the lineup looks exciting; predicting the rest is difficult.

Published by Patrick Jane