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Costa Heroics Send Portugal Through After Penalty Drama

  • July 2, 2024
  • 2 min read
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Costa Heroics Send Portugal Through After Penalty Drama

Goalkeeper Diogo Costa emerged as Portugal’s hero in a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Slovenia on Monday.

The Round of 16 clash at Frankfurt Arena remained scoreless after 120 minutes, despite Portugal’s dominance.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a chance to win it in extra time after a penalty awarded for a foul on Diogo Jota, but Jan Oblak produced a brilliant save to deny him. The miss left Ronaldo emotional at halftime of extra time, but his fortunes turned around as Portugal triumphed in the shootout.

The match itself was a tense affair. Portugal controlled possession from the outset but struggled to break down Slovenia’s deep defense. Their best chance in the first half fell to Ronaldo, whose header was comfortably saved by Oblak. João Palhinha also went close, striking the outside of the post just before halftime.

The second half mirrored the first, with Portugal seeing most of the ball but lacking a cutting edge. Ronaldo again had a thunderous free-kick saved by Oblak, while Slovenia’s Benjamin Šeško threatened on a rare counter-attack, only to be denied by Costa.

With the score still deadlocked in the 89th minute, Ronaldo had another glorious opportunity, but Oblak continued his heroics to force extra time. The additional period offered more of the same, culminating in a penalty for Portugal after Jota was brought down. Ronaldo’s woes continued as Oblak guessed correctly to deny him.

Slovenia nearly snatched victory in the 113th minute when Pepe’s mistake gifted Šeško a one-on-one chance, but Costa made a crucial save to take the game to penalties.

The shootout became Costa’s moment of glory. He saved Josip Iličić’s opening penalty, setting the tone for Portugal. Ronaldo, determined to atone for his earlier miss, calmly converted his spot-kick. Costa then denied Jure Belković, and Bruno Fernandes extended Portugal’s lead. Šeško’s attempt was also saved by the inspired Costa, completing his hat-trick of penalty saves.

Bernardo Silva stepped up for the winning penalty, coolly sending Oblak the wrong way and securing Portugal’s passage to the quarterfinals. A mouthwatering clash against France awaits, with the stage set for a battle between Kylian Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo. The match between these two superstars and top nations will be a repeat of the final in 2016.

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Nkanyiso Mchunu

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