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Joao Felix hits the crossbar! Cristiano Ronaldo and Co are eliminated on penalties

Joao Felix hits the crossbar! Cristiano Ronaldo and Co are eliminated on penalties

Without any sparkle and thanks to the tension of a penalty kick, France reached the semi-finals of the European Football Championship in Germany. The vice-world champions won the quarter-final against Portugal on Friday, which was marked by tactical and safe play, winning 5-3 on penalties after 120 quiet and goalless minutes. In the semi-final, the “Equipe Tricolor” will face Spain on Tuesday (9 p.m.) in Munich.

The French converted all five of their penalty attempts against Diogo Costa, who had been Portugal's hero with three saves in the last 16 against Slovenia. After Joao Felix had just hit the bar, favourite Theo Hernandez struck.

France are in the top four with an incredible record: the star has not scored in five games, and a penalty from Kylian Mbappé and two own goals have taken the two-time European champions to the quarter-finals.

Lawn Chess in Hamburg

The 50,000-capacity Volksparkstadion in Hamburg witnessed a “chess on grass” experience that both teams have seen so far in the tournament: a solid defense, keenness to maintain possession, and a slow build-up. The top-class attackers on both sides, led by stars Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo respectively, could not be displayed for long. Defender Hernandez (20) had the only shot on goal before the break from long range but there was no chance to score.

In the second half, Mbappé was initially the focus. The future Real Madrid forward fired a shot on goal (50'), was unable to get close to Hernandez's cross (52'), and was left in pain after the ball hit his face from his broken nose in the opening match of the European Championship against Austria (55'). At the end of the second period of extra time, Mbappé finally left the pitch.

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An hour later, life suddenly came back to life. At first, Portugal became dangerous. Bruno Fernandes (61') and Rafael Leao (63') scored the first goal, but goalkeeper Mike Maignan saved them. On the other hand, Randal Kolo Muani's shot was blocked (66), Eduardo Camavinga missed a few centimeters (70), and so did Ousmane Dembele (74).

At the start of extra time, Ronaldo also made his debut but his shot missed the target (93'). Leao (102'), substitute Joao Felix (108') and Nuno Mendes (120') caused more danger, but the “Blue Bunker”, as L'Equipe calls the defensive fortress of Didier Deschamps' team, held out. France have conceded only one goal from a penalty so far and are still in the race for their third European Championship title.