Saturday, July 13, 2024

Portugal 0-0 Slovenia (aet, 3-0 pens): Ronaldo atones for penalty miss as Selecao inch through

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Jul 2024

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Cristiano Ronaldo saw an extra-time penalty saved by Jan Oblak, but recovered to convert in the shoot-out as Portugal survived a huge scare to beat Slovenia on spot-kicks following a goalless draw in the last 16 at Euro 2024.

Ronaldo had a glorious opportunity to send Portugal through in the first half of extra time, but broke down in tears when his tame kick was repelled by the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper.

He had earlier missed chance after chance in regulation time as Slovenia – chiefly thanks to the efforts of Oblak – kept Roberto Martinez’s team at bay to force spot-kicks.

However, he made no mistake with his second attempt from the spot, and Diogo Costa kept out all three Slovenia kicks from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic.

The Selecao will now take on France for a spot in the semi-finals on Friday, while Slovenia’s tournament is over despite a gallant effort in Frankfurt.

Both Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes were unable to get a touch on Bernardo Silva’s inswinging cross as Portugal put Slovenia under pressure early on, the former also heading straight at Oblak when presented with another good chance 31 minutes in.

Oblak was then relieved to see Ronaldo send a dipping free-kick effort narrowly over the crossbar, before Joao Palhinha saw a low drive kiss the outside of the post on the stroke of half-time.

Ronaldo saw another free-kick beaten away by Oblak after the restart, before Benjamin Sesko squandered a huge chance on the break, dragging his shot wide after showing blistering pace to beat Pepe – now the oldest player to play in a World Cup or European Championship knockout match at 41 years and 126 days.

Ronaldo had one final chance to avoid extra time in the 89th minute, but Oblak stood firm to repel his left-footed strike at the near post, and keep Slovenia in the tie.

It was Oblak versus Ronaldo once again as the first half of extra time drew to a close, Daniele Orsato awarding a penalty when Diogo Jota was felled by Vanja Drkusic.

Ronaldo went for the bottom-right corner, but Oblak sprung across to make a brilliant stop and leave the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in tears at the interval.

It was then Costa’s turn to produce the heroics at the other end, making a huge one-on-one save to deny Sesko following a mistake from Pepe to take the tie to penalties.

Costa was unbeatable in the shoot-out, too, keeping out all three Slovenia kicks, while Ronaldo atoned for his earlier miss by converting coolly with Portugal’s first kick, before Fernandes and Bernardo Silva also converted as the Selecao edged through.

From despair to relief for Ronaldo

Ronaldo’s frustrations were evident throughout the group stage as he failed to net in three games, the first time he has done so in 11 major tournaments (World Cup or European Championship) throughout his career.

For 120 minutes, things did not improve in the round of 16, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner reaching 20 shots at this tournament without netting, overtaking Kai Havertz and Kylian Mbappe (15 each) for most shots attempted.

He accumulated 1.33 expected goals (xG) from seven shots on his own, more than every other player on the pitch combined, while failing to convert a penalty in a major tournament match for the third time in nine attempts.

However, he would not be denied in the shoot-out, setting the tone with an excellent first kick for Portugal as they survived a massive scare.

Oblak heroics count for nothing

The entire tie revolved around Ronaldo’s battle with Oblak, a man he has faced off against in many a Madrid derby.

The Slovenia goalkeeper was in incredible form through the 120 minutes, making six saves as Portugal were pushed all the way.

However, he was outdone by Costa in the end, the Porto man becoming the first goalkeeper to ever save three penalties in a European Championship shoot-out.

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