Football Features

Portugal 0-0 Slovenia: Diogo Costa saves the day on penalties as Ronaldo loses composure

By CJ Smith

Portugal 0-0 Slovenia: Diogo Costa saves the day on penalties as Ronaldo loses composure

Published: 23:11, 1 July 2024

Portugal booked their place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Slovenia in Frankfurt on Monday. 

A Seleção das Quinas went into the match as massive favourites but were given an almighty scare as a defensive masterclass from the Slovenians so very nearly provided the platform for the shock of the tournament so far.

However, it’s 2016 winners Portugal who will take on the team they beat to win that title eight years ago, with France their opponents in Hamburg on Friday following their 1-0 win over Belgium.

Monday night was a story of goalkeepers, penalties and tears:

Will Ronaldo ever score for Portugal again?

It’s safe to say this has not been Cristiano Ronaldo’s tournament so far. One of the greatest players of all time, the 39-year-old is yet to find the net in Germany this summer and has often cut a frustrated, even angry figure. On Monday, frustration turned into tears as, after already missing a couple of decent chances, Ronaldo was denied from the spot in extra-time by Jan Oblak in a renewing of their old Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid rivalry.

Half-time in extra-time soon followed, with Ronaldo crying and unable to be consoled by his teammates despite there being another 15 minutes still to play.

Ronaldo attempted seven shots on the night to take his tournament total to 19 and yet, he still hasn’t managed to find the net. Well, technically. The Al-Nassr striker did, of course, step up first for Portugal in the shootout, redeeming himself with a pin-point effort into the corner, despite Oblak once again guessing the right way.

However, the question still stands as to whether or not Ronaldo, with all the other incredible and younger attacking talent in Roberto Martinez’s squad, should still be playing every single minute for Portugal.

Diogo Costa saves the day for Portugal

It really was a night for goalkeepers. Oblak thought he’d written his name into the stars by denying Ronaldo and putting Slovenia on the brink of a historic giant-killing. However, it was his opposite number Diogo Costa who proved the hero of the night.

The Porto man had to stay alert throughout the evening as Portugal dominated, making some tidy interventions to stop Slovenian counter-attacks. But it was his save to deny Benjamin Sesko one-on-one deep into extra-time that was the pick of the bunch, spreading himself brilliantly and sparing the blushes of veteran defender Pepe, who slipped to allow the RB Leipzig striker through.

But it only got better from there for Costa.

Did you know he was the first goalkeeper on record to save three penalties in a single Champions League campaign, doing so during the 2022/23 group stages? Well, he only went and condensed those superhuman instincts into one single shootout here, guessing right to save all three Slovenian efforts from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic, giving Portugal an incredible 3-0 win as Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva made no mistake against Oblak.

The Portuguese end of the stadium erupted into incredible celebrations and this time, it was Costa’s turn to bring out the waterworks, although for very different reasons to his compatriot.

Returning to Ronaldo, he is looking to become the first footballer to score in 11 consecutive major tournaments. Thanks to Diogo Costa’s records, he still has a chance to write history:

  • Diogo Costa is the first man in European Championship history to save three penalties in a shootout.
  • No man in European Championship history has saved more shootout penalties and he’s only faced three.
  • He also kept a clean sheet in the 120 minutes.

Martinez must now compose his troops quickly after a night of drama, tension and unbearable emotion, with Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Co lying in wait on Friday.