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Ronaldo Wept, Costa Carried. Portugal Miraculously Reached the EURO'24 Quarterfinals

The fate of the showdown with Slovenia was decided only in a penalty shootout.

Portugal couldn't have asked for a better draw in the Round of 16. In the "group of death," Slovenia seemed entirely out of place despite having Jan Oblak in their ranks. Only the goalkeeper could challenge Cristiano Ronaldo and company. Still, in that case, they needed to play for a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes and then win the penalty shootout. A goalkeeper can perform miracles in a single match, especially Oblak, but someone still has to score.

The start of the match confirmed the expectations of how the game would unfold. The Portuguese took control of the ball and tried to attack in numbers. They didn't do this well, but Roberto Martinez's team created some chances. As usual, Ronaldo was active, but it didn't amount to much. Before the break, Ruben Dias and Ronaldo had opportunities but failed to capitalize on them. The Slovenians also had a few chances before halftime but couldn't finish their attacks either.

Despite Portugal looking generally better, the match was quite dull. Some sparkling football was anticipated after the grueling spectacle called France vs. Belgium, even if one team had a clear advantage. But no, the teams went into halftime with a 0-0 score.

Portugal came out more energized in the second half. Immediately, Bernardo Silva had a great chance but somehow missed from a few meters out. After that, the game became dull again, a trend seen in the last EURO matches. The closer the final whistle came, the less the teams seemed eager to score. Portugal's leaders were hardly visible as they started playing more conservatively. Ronaldo played on his own.

Moreover, if it hadn't been for "Grandpa" Pepe, the emboldened Slovenians might have ended it in regulation time. Sometimes Portugal got lucky, and sometimes they preferred to control the ball rather than push forward, but 90 minutes wasn't enough to determine the winner. Interesting events unfolded at the midway point of extra time: Portugal was awarded a penalty after the first 15 minutes. Ronaldo stepped up and... moments later, was crying uncontrollably in the arms of his consoling teammates. Yes, Oblak knows well how Cristiano takes his penalties.
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In the second 15-minute period, Pepe nearly made a fatal mistake. In a harmless situation, the 41-year-old veteran gifted the ball to Benjamin Šeško, who had plenty of time to score but took a poor shot. Diogo Costa made an outstanding save.

In the end, the penalty shootout decided everything. This time, Ronaldo didn't falter, stepping up first and beating Oblak. The Slovenians missed their first three attempts, while the Portuguese were accurate. Diogo Costa emerged as the hero of the match. Three penalties – three saves. Portugal is in the quarterfinals. However, with such play, the team will find it very difficult to advance further.

Published by Patrick Jane