Diogo Costa saves Portugal on penalties

Diogo Costa saves Portugal on penalties

Portugal will face France in the quarter-finals after an agonising finale amidst tears from Ronaldo


Portugal beat Slovenia on penalties on Monday (3-0, after a goalless draw at the end of extra time) to meet France in the quarter-finals of this Euro 2024 in Germany, after a clash with Portugal superiority but without success, with Jan Oblak saving face for the Slovenians until, in the fateful shootout, the hero was Diogo Costa with three saving saves.

The Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt was scoreless for 120 minutes after a fierce duel between Portugal and Slovenia, but hearts were racing when, in that penalty shoot-out that saved the Portuguese and was fateful for the Slovenians, Diogo Costa exploded, already looking like a hero at the end of extra time, when he saved the day in a clear one-on-one with Sesko.

In Cristiano Ronaldo’s record-breaking 12th game in Euro qualifiers, he failed to score in full time, even missing a penalty in extra time. But he had the guts to take the first shot of the shootout, score and apologize after crying inconsolably beforehand. But he managed to get his revenge in time to get the team he captains into the quarterfinals.

And the Portuguese are doing so at the expense of a Slovenia that has only lost two of its last 17 official matches, as it bids farewell to this Euro 2024 without losing. And without winning. It leaves with three draws in the group stage and this draw – a loss on penalties – against Portugal in the round of 16, in its best Euro Cup in any case.

Portugal came out all guns blazing, both from the start and at the start of the second half. They had more chances, more ball possession and more sense of danger, but they do not have and will never have a Jan Oblak against whom they crashed again and again, except in the final shootout. The Slovenian goalkeeper was the unbreakable link for the Portuguese throughout the 90 minutes and in extra time, when the forces were equal until the fateful, for the Slovenians, penalties.

Slovenia knew how to play and did it well, although Leipzig’s Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko missed two clear chances that would have changed the game, preventing it from going to penalties. Above all, he missed a one-on-one in the 115th minute when he shot low against Diogo Costa, who saved it with his left foot, like a handball goalkeeper, to prevent the goal that would have taken Slovenia to the quarterfinals in extra time. Pepe lost the ball, exhausted, but Sesko returned the gift.

The Portuguese dominated, but they did not find the magic of Bernardo Silva or Bruno Fernandes. João Félix did not come out to play and the other João, Cancelo, was the best on the pitch. But Portugal, or Roberto Martínez, played the usual game: Cristiano Ronaldo up front and, as a refresher, Diogo Jota who barely touched the ball. The Spanish coach made little change from the sidelines and, when Cristiano Ronaldo saw Oblak save a penalty in extra time, he faded away.

But before the penalty shoot-out, with the Portuguese fans in the background, Ronaldo reconnected. As did the rest of Portugal’s players and, above all, the heroic Diogo Costa, FC Porto’s goalkeeper who led his country to the quarter-finals despite the fact that, in the previous 120 minutes, the one who stood out between the sticks was his colleague and rival Jan Oblak.

He, the red-and-white goalkeeper, was the one who partly prevented Slovenia from falling earlier. But Matjaz Kek’s plan failed because, up front, neither Sesko nor Sporar nor Celar (who came on as the penultimate player) knew how to put the ball in the Portuguese net in any of the few, but some clearer than the water in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, chances they had at their feet. And they paid for it with elimination.

And Portugal were unable to close the game out earlier either. Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo failed to get to Bernardo Silva’s cross in the 13th minute, Ronaldo missed Oblak’s header in the 31st minute, Palhinha hit the Slovenian goalkeeper’s post just before the break with a long-range shot… And Oblak made endless saves against Ronaldo. Nothing. Portugal needed the sudden death to go through.


Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak and Cristiano Ronaldo recalled old duels from the past, when the Portuguese forward played for Real Madrid and they fought in Madrid derbies. This time, each defending his country, they once again demonstrated that the years pass but the quality remains, especially for Cristiano who tried it in every way but left Frankfurt without being able to overcome the Slovenian goalkeeper.

With several direct free kicks, one of them hitting the crossbar although with a shot well protected by a well-positioned Oblak, and above all a one-on-one in the 89th minute that the goalkeeper saved between his legs and body, with everything in his favour for Ronaldo to avoid extra time, the Portuguese tried everything but became desperate in front of the ‘wall’ Oblak, who put Slovenia on his back to force extra time and, in it, stopped a penalty on the brink of half-time. Oblak drove ‘CR7’ to despair, who could not help crying after that key mistake.


–RESULT: PORTUGAL, 0 – SLOVENIA, 0 (3-0 in the penalty shoot-out).


PORTUGAL: Diogo Costa; Cancelo (Semedo, min.117), Ruben Dias, Pepe (Neves, min.118), Nuno Mendes; Palhinha, Bruno Fernandes, Vitinha (Diogo Jota, min.65); Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo and Leao (Conceiçao, min.76).

SLOVENIA: Cloud; Karnicnik, Drkusic, Bijol, Balkovec; Stojanovic (Verbic, min.86), Cerin, Elsnik (Ilicic, min.106), Mlakar (Stankovic, min.74); Sporar (Celar, min.74) y Sesko.


(penalty sign)

0-0. Ilicic foul.

1-0. Cristiano Ronaldo scores.

1-0. Falla Balkovec.

2-0. Bruno Fernandes scores.

2-0. Falla Verbic.

3-0. Bernardo Silva scores.

–ÁRBITRO: Daniele Orsato (ITA). Amonestó a Drkusic (min.32), Karnicnik (min.37), Stankovic (min.101), Bijol (min.106), Balkovec (min.107) in Eslovenia.

–STADIUM: Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt.