Friday, July 19, 2024

Portugal beat Slovenia to reach Euro 2024 last eight as Costa dries Ronaldo’s tears

“Even the strongest people have their (bad) days. I was at rock bottom… when the team needed me the most,” Ronaldo said in a post-match interview before bursting into tears again.

Ronaldo crying
Ronaldo crying[Credit: The Independent]

Goalkeeper Diogo Costa saved all three penalties as Portugal won 3-0 in a shootout against a brave Slovenia side who had held them to a 0-0 draw after Cristiano Ronaldo’s extra-time miss from the spot in a dramatic Euro 2024 last-16 clash on Monday.

Portugal had the lion’s share of the chances but also their brilliant goalkeeper to thank for a one-on-one save from Slovenia striker Benjamin Sesko as they stumbled into a quarter-final meeting with France in Hamburg on Friday.

Costa also saved from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic in the shootout — the first keeper to save three penalties in a Euros shootout — to send his side through despite a team performance that lacked spark for the most part.

“This is probably the best game of my life,” Costa said. “I focused on doing what I had to do. I went with my gut feeling. Of course we had analysed the penalty takers, but players change how they shoot. I’m very happy and very excited to have helped the team.”

Ronaldo, in particular, will come under the spotlight as he wasted several opportunities to go with a penalty miss in extra time, which left him in a flood of tears and needing to be consoled by teammates.

“Even the strongest people have their (bad) days. I was at rock bottom… when the team needed me the most,” Ronaldo said in a post-match interview before bursting into tears again. “Sadness at the start is joy at the end. That’s what football is. Moments, inexplicable moments.”

He added, “I feel sad and happy at the same time. But the important thing is to enjoy it. The team did an extraordinary job. We fought right to the end and if you look at it, if you analyse the game, I think we deserved it because we had more authority.”

Portugal were awarded the penalty late in the first half of extra time when Diogo Jota’s storming run into the box was illegally stopped by defender Vanja Drkusic, who had already been booked and was lucky not to receive a second yellow card.

Ronaldo’s penalty effort was superbly saved to his left by Slovenia’s Jan Oblak, who pushed the ball onto the post.

Ronaldo, aiming to become the oldest scorer in Euros history at 39, had looked out of sorts all through the match, missing several headed chances.

He also insisted on taking all four free-kicks Portugal awarded in shooting range, with none particularly threatening for Oblak. 

(Reuters/NAN)

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