Euro 2024: Ronaldo's tears turn to celebration in Portugal's SO win over Slovenia

by IANS |

Euro 2024: Ronaldo's tears turn to celebration in Portugal's SO win over Slovenia Frankfurt, July 2 (IANS) Cristiano Ronaldo experienced an emotional rollercoaster as Portugal survived Slovenia in a penalty shootout in the Euro 2024 Round of 16. In a dramatic and gripping match, Ronaldo missed a penalty in extra time, shedding tears on the pitch, but redeemed himself by scoring the first penalty in the shootout. With goalkeeper Diogo Costa's three consecutive saves, Portugal triumphed 3-0 over Slovenia to advance to the quarterfinals. Portugal will face tournament favorites France in the next round, who narrowly defeated Belgium 1-0 in an earlier match the same day. Costa, currently playing for Porto, was undoubtedly the hero of the match as he saved three penalties in a row from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec, and Benjamin Verbic. Meanwhile, his teammates Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and Bernardo Silva converted their penalties, securing Portugal's 3-0 victory and a spot in the quarterfinals. "This might be the best match of my career so far. I focused on my tasks on the pitch," the 24-year-old Costa said in a post-match interview. "I trusted my gut during the penalty shootout. Of course, we had analyzed the shooters, but players often change their minds on the field, so I trusted my gut." In addition to his heroics in the penalty shootout, Costa made a crucial save in the final stages of extra time, denying a one-on-one opportunity from Slovenia's forward Benjamin Sesko, reports Xinhua. "Costa is our secret weapon. He showed his strength today," Portugal coach Roberto Martinez praised Costa. Before Costa's stellar performance, captain Ronaldo had a chance to score the winning goal, but his penalty was saved by Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak. After missing the penalty, a tearful Ronaldo was comforted by teammates and coaching staff, while Portuguese fans chanted "Viva Ronaldo" to support the 39-year-old veteran. "This match took me from extreme sorrow to extreme joy. This is football. You can't explain it," Ronaldo said in a post-match interview. "I had the chance to decide the game, but I missed, and Oblak made a fantastic save." Wiping away his tears, Ronaldo continued to play and stepped up first in the penalty shootout, confidently scoring his penalty. Ronaldo, the all-time best scorer of the tournament who is playing his record sixth Euro Championships, has yet to find the net during this edition. "Ronaldo missed the penalty, but in the shootout, he was the first to step up and lead us to victory. This was a team victory, from the dressing room to the pitch. Ronaldo is our captain, and he shows us, both on and off the field, that even in the toughest times, we should never give up," Martinez said about Ronaldo. --IANS bc/

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