Penalty shootout heartbreak as Portugal’s Euro 2024 campaign ends in a quarter-final defeat to France

Portugal’s 2024 UEFA European Championship ended in the quarter-finals after a penalty shootout defeat against France.

Clear cut chances were hard to come by in Hamburg before the tempo increased in the second half. Rúben Dias did well to divert Randal Kolo Muani's shot wide in the 66th minute.

Eduardo Camavinga and Ousmane Dembélé went close for Les Bleus before Roberto Martínez introduced Francisco Conceição. He teed up Cristiano Ronaldo in extra time but the striker was unable to hit the target.

Neither team could find the net in 120 minutes of action which saw the contest decided by a penalty shootout.

João Félix was the unlucky one who hit the post, France perfect from the spot which saw the Seleção sent home early.

It was another brutal end to an international tournament, particularly for Pepe who has surely hung up his boots for the Seleção.

Slow start

France applied plenty of pressure in the opening minutes, Portugal eventually getting on the ball but unable to trouble Mike Maignan. The first chance came in the 16th minute when Bruno Fernandes’ shot was deflected wide.

João Palhinha’s turnover led to Les Bleus’ opening opportunity, the dangerous Theo Hernández firing straight at Diogo Costa. The goalkeeper was called into action again when he punched away Kylian Mbappé’s deflected cross.

The cagey affair continued Hamburg, Randal Kolo Muani bringing down Vitinha which presented Cristiano Ronaldo with a free kick. He declined the invitation, Bruno Fernandes stepping up and narrowly missing the top corner.

Tempo increases

The intensity levels increased in the second half with both teams showing more attacking intent, Mbappé playing a 1-2 with N'Golo Kanté before shooting straight at Costa.

Portugal enjoyed a brief spell of pressure when João Cancelo released Fernandes who forced a save from Maignan. The pair combined seconds later, Fernandes turning provider for Cancelo who missed the top corner.

The French goalkeeper was well and truly in the action, saving Vitinha's effort and getting back on his feet to deny Ronaldo from a tight angle.

The momentum continued to swing when Kolo Muani went on a long run forward and got behind Portugal’s defence, Rúben Dias doing well to get back and deflect his effort wide.

Didier Deschamps was the first manager to make a move, that moment coming in the 67th minute when Antoine Griezmann made way for Ousmane Dembélé France remained on the front foot with Mbappé’s shot blocked by Nuno Mendes, Eduardo Camavinga going close and Dembélé missing the top corner.

Roberto Martínez went to his bench in the 74th minute when he introduced Nélson Semedo and Francisco Conceição for João Cancelo and Bruno Fernandes. João Palhinha was booked for a challenge on Mbappé.

Conceição wasted no time getting involved, the youngster winning a duel with Theo Hernández and instigating an attack. He continued his run and was dragged down by William Saliba, Ronaldo stepping up and slamming the free kick into the wall.

The chances dried up as Deschamps brought on Marcus Thuram for Kolo Muani, Martínez taking off Palhinha and introducing Rúben Neves. The final opportunity in regulation time fell for Mbappé, a tame effort that was catching practice for Costa.

Extra time and penalties

The chance Ronaldo had been waiting for eventually came in extra time, Conceição driving to the byline and picking out the striker who couldn’t connect cleanly.

Pepe’s impressive performance continued when he blocked Mbappé’s effort, both teams lacking composure in front of goal with fatigue setting in.

Deschamps made a surprising switch at half-time in extra time when Bradley Barcola replaced Mbappé, Martínez bringing on João Félix for Leão. Félix immediately got on the end of Conceição’s cross and headed into the side netting.

France responded once again as Dembélé cut inside and fired over the bar, Barcola then breaking through and missing the target from a tight angle.

Martínez brought on Matheus Nunes for Vitinha in the 119th minute but there was still time for another chance. Nuno Mendes did well to send his side clear, the defender getting the ball back from Bernardo Silva but unable to generate enough power to trouble Maignan.

Penalties were required to secure a semi-finalist but Diogo Costa was unable to produce another heroic performance in the shootout. João Félix hit the post, France converting all five spot kicks which saw Portugal’s tournament come to an early end.

Close but no cigar

The cruelty of international football was on display again at the Volksparkstadion, France in celebration mode as their tournament continues and Portugal looking for the first flight home.

A close game was predicted and that’s exactly what we got with neither team deserving to win or lose. Fine margins decide many games and that’s exactly what happened in Hamburg.

Pepe had a huge game in what is surely his final appearance for the Seleção in his 141st cap. He made important challenges to deny Kolo Muani, Thuram and blocked an effort from Mbappé in extra time.

The 41-year-old was in tears after the final whistle, consoled by Ronaldo in what is sure to be an enduring image to complete the album of his international career.

Nuno Mendes hardly put a foot wrong all evening and surged towards the finish line, a performance reminiscent of his display against Czechia.

Vitinha continued to impress, his inclusion in Portugal’s starting side one of the success stories of the campaign. The other is Francisco Conceição, the youngster scoring the winning goal against Czechia and providing plenty of spark off the bench against France.

The investigations will surely commence to try and understand and explain how Portugal failed at Euro 2024. At the end of the day it’s simply bad luck in the lottery of a penalty shootout.

By Matthew Marshall at the Volksparkstadion

Line Ups

Portugal (4-3-3): Diogo Costa - João Cancelo (Nélson Semedo 74’), Pepe, Rúben Dias, Nuno Mendes - Bruno Fernandes (Francisco Conceição 74’), João Palhinha (Rúben Neves 90+1’), Vitinha (Matheus Nunes 119’) - Rafael Leão (João Félix 106’), Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva

Unused substitutes: Rui Patrício, José Sá, António Silva, Gonçalo Inácio, Danilo Pereira, Diogo Dalot, João Neves, Pedro Neto, Diogo Jota, Gonçalo Ramos

Coach: Roberto Martínez

France (4-3-1-2): Mike Maignan - Jules Koundé, Dayot Upamecano, William Saliba, Theo Hernández - N'Golo Kanté, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Eduardo Camavinga (Youssouf Fofana 91’) - Antoine Griezmann (Ousmane Dembélé 67’) - Randal Kolo Muani (Marcus Thuram 86’), Kylian Mbappé (Bradley Barcola 106’)

Unused substitutes: Brice Samba, Alphonse Areola, Ibrahima Konaté, Benjamin Pavard, Jonathan Clauss, Ferland Mendy, Warren Zaïre-Emery, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud

Suspended: Adrien Rabiot

Coach: Didier Deschamps