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Euro 2024| Goal-shy France enjoy first penalty shootout win since 1998

Despite French joy at reaching the semi-finals, where they will face Spain next week, they have not been firing on all cylinders.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 03:41 IST

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Hamburg, Germany: France buried some bitter memories from recent tournaments to win their first penalty shootout since 1998 on Friday and earn a place in the semi-finals of the Euros.

"I know, I was there!" recalled a beaming Didier Deschamps, a player in that World Cup quarter-final against Italy and now coach of the team that did the same to Portugal 26 years later.

After 120 minutes of open play ended 0-0 at the Volksparkstadion, France scored a perfect sequence of five penalties, while Portugal's Joao Felix struck the post leading to a 5-3 victory for Les Bleus.

"We could have won, they could have won ... With calm and serenity, those who scored in the shootout did well, and when the opposition misses, so much the better," Deschamps said.

That made up for France's pain after being eliminated from the last Euros in a last-16 shootout with Switzerland and also losing the 2022 World Cup final against Argentina on spot kicks.

Despite French joy at reaching the semi-finals, where they will face Spain next week, they have not been firing on all cylinders.

In fact, they have not yet scored in open play, benefitting from two own goals and a penalty in their previous four matches at the tournament.

"For various reasons, Kylian (Mbappe) and Antoine (Griezmann) are not playing their best football. But despite all of this, we're here," Deschamps said.

"You wonder what would have happened if we had scored goals. The opponent (Portugal) wasn't that efficient either. They had some goalscoring opportunities but they were facing a monumental (goalkeeper Mike) Maignan.

"You're not telling me that we don't deserve our place in the semi-final ... But I would prefer to have a team that's more efficient in goal-scoring. We need to score more goals.

However, goalkeeper Maignan praised the penalty-takers.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game but we were solid in defence and we had a lot of mental strength and kept our cool during the shootout, that's what made the difference," he said.

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Published 06 July 2024, 03:41 IST

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