SPORT

France reach Euro 2024 semi finals

French Football Team Celebrate

French hold their nerve to beat Portugal on penalties.

France edged into the semi-finals of Euro 2024 after beating Portugal 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out.

Following a quiet opening, both sides sprung into life after half-time with Mike Maignan making a string of great saves to deny Portugal before Eduardo Camavinga and Ousmane Dembele went close for France.

However, neither side could break the deadlock as the game fizzled out to penalties – Portugal’s second successive shoot-out of the tournament.

France led 3-2 when Joao Felix stepped up to the spot and smashed his penalty off the left post.

Theo Hernandez then hit the winning spot-kick to send France into a semi-final tie against Spain.

After an even start, Portugal grew into the game with some early pressure and Bruno Fernandes tested the French defence after having an effort deflected behind by William Saliba.

France started to push up the pitch and Diogo Costa parried well to deny Hernandez’s powerful strike before being called into action again to push away Kylian Mbappe’s effort.

Portugal enjoyed dangerous spells of possession with Rafael Leao causing problems down the left flank, while France worked the ball well around the box, but were frustrated with some poor finishing.

Fernandes then had a chance just before the break, but blasted a free-kick over the crossbar.

France began the second half sharply and Costa reacted well to save Mbappe’s curling strike before Hernandez sent a menacing low cross across goal, but no one was there to stab home.

Portugal suddenly sparked into life when Fernandes tested Maignan with a low strike but the goalkeeper got down to save well and Joao Cancelo then fired the ball over the bar.

Leao hit a great pass into an unmarked Vitinha, but his close-range shot was denied by another excellent save from Maignan.

France then had chances of their own when Randal Kolo Muani’s strike was brilliantly blocked by Ruben Dias, and Eduardo Camavinga shortly fired just wide of the post.

They continued to knock at the door when Ousmane Dembele’s strike glanced past the corner of the goal and N’Golo Kante tried his luck from distance twice, but Costa easily saved.

Both teams had chances in extra time when Cristiano Ronaldo slashed well over the bar before Dembele made a brilliant run to the edge of the box from the halfway line and played the ball wide to Mbappe, who had his strike blocked.

Portugal pressed as Felix headed into the side-netting at the far post and Nuno Mendes had a low shot saved in the final seconds as the game was decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Dembele, Youssouf Fofana and Jules Kounde all converted for France, while Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva scored for Portugal before Felix missed his spot-kick.

Bradley Barcola then extended Les Bleus’ lead before Nuno Mendes responded and Hernandez ensured France reached the final four, blasting his penalty into the top corner.

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