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    Thursday, July 18, 2024

    Ronaldo heading home as France beats Portugal 5-3 in a penalty shootout in Euro 2024 quarterfinals

    Theo Hernandez of France, right, celebrates with goalkeeper Mike Maignan after scoring the game-winning goal in a penalty shootout to defeat Portugal during a quarterfinal match at Euro 2024 in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday. (Hassan Ammar/AP Photo)

    Hamburg, Germany — France ended Cristiano Ronaldo’s bid to win the title at his last European Championship by beating Portugal 5-3 in a penalty shootout to reach the semifinals on Friday.

    After the game finished 0-0 following extra time, Portugal substitute Joao Felix hit a post with the only miss in the shootout and Theo Hernández showed no sign of pressure by converting the clinching kick into the top corner.

    It was a record sixth and final European Championship for the 39-year-old Ronaldo, who scored Portugal's first penalty in the shootout and ended up consoling fellow veteran Pepe afterward as the 41-year-old defender cried on his captain's shoulder.

    “We need to go through this moment of our loss, which is very painful,” Pepe said.

    Ronaldo's 20-year career in the Euros included the title in 2016 — when Portugal beat France in the final — and it remains to be seen if the five-time world player of the year will continue playing for his country through to the 2026 World Cup, when he will be aged 41.

    “Everything is too raw,” said Portugal coach Roberto Martinez, when asked if that was Ronaldo's last game for his country. “We are suffering a defeat as a team — there are no individual decisions at this point.”

    The victory ended the recent heartbreak of Kylian Mbappé and France in shootouts, having lost in them at their last two major tournaments — in the last 16 at the Euros in 2021 and in the 2022 World Cup final.

    Mbappé didn't even take a penalty in the shootout, having been substituted after the first half of extra time following a couple of knocks to his broken nose that was covered by a protective mask.

    Les Bleus didn't need their star player, as Ousmane Dembele, Youssouf Fofana, Jules Kounde and Bradley Barcola all found the net in the shootout — held in front of Portugal's fans — before Hernández's coup de grâce set off jubilant scenes for the French inside the stadium in Hamburg.

    “It wasn’t easy," France goalkeeper Mike Maignan said. “We didn’t always play that great, it was a complicated game. We played well defensively.”

    “We got to the penalty shootout and didn’t waver. We can be proud of ourselves.”

    France will play Spain in the semifinals after its extra-time win over Germany in Stuttgart, with Les Bleus staying on course for a third European Championship title after 1984 and 2000.

    Didier Deschamps' team has reached the semifinals despite no France player having scored from open play so far in the tournament.

    Portugal exited having failed to score in either of its knockout games — the team beat Slovenia on penalties in the last 16 — and its final group match, leaving Martinez plenty of questions to answer.

    “From our side, we deserved to win,” Martinez said. “But we are talking about the best players in Europe. It’s a sad night.”

    Theo Hernandez of France, right, scores the deciding goal in a shootout to win a quarterfinal match between Portugal and France at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament. (Frank Augstein/AP Photo)
    France players celebrate after the penalty shootout against Portugal. (Hassan Ammar/AP Photo)
    Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after failing to score Friday during a quarterfinal match between Portugal and France. (Martin Meissner/AP Photo)

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