• Friday, July 19, 2024
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‘Game of my life,’ says Portugal Euro 2024 penalty hero Diogo Costa

Diogo-Costa

Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa declared Monday’s match against Slovenia as the best game of his life after saving three penalties to propel his team into the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.

Following a goalless 120 minutes in Frankfurt, Costa’s heroics in the penalty shootout thwarted Slovenia’s attempts, securing a 3-0 win for Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed a penalty in extra-time, redeemed himself by converting in the shootout alongside Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva. Portugal now faces France in the last eight on Friday.

The 24-year-old Costa also made a crucial one-on-one save with his foot during the second period of extra time when Slovenia’s Benjamin Sesko posed a threat following a defensive error.

“I think this is probably the best game of my life, maybe the game I was most useful in,” Costa told reporters. “I just went with my gut. Of course, we analyzed the shooters, but players change their minds and the way they shoot. I am very, very happy, and I am very excited to help the team.”

Reflecting on his crucial save near the end of extra time, Costa said, “I thought, ‘I need to stop this, I’ll give it my best effort.’ I tried to read his body language, and thankfully, I managed to help the team, which was the key thing.”

Costa expressed satisfaction that Ronaldo recovered from his 105th-minute penalty miss, which left the superstar in tears. “We all felt we needed to keep believing—myself and Cristiano. Everybody makes mistakes, but the most important thing is what we do after these mistakes,” Costa added. “We need to believe in ourselves, and that’s what we did. And now we’re all very happy and all friends.”

Selecao coach Roberto Martinez praised Ronaldo’s emotional display, noting it showed how much he still cared in his sixth European Championship despite a long and illustrious career.

“Those emotions are incredible for someone who has done so much. That’s why I thank him… only the penalty takers can miss penalties,” said Martinez. “I was certain he had to be the first taker in the shootout and show us our way to victory. Everyone is very proud of our captain. He gives us all a lesson to have real high standards and never give up.”

Martinez also lauded Costa, calling him a “very well-kept secret in Portuguese football.” “I’ve worked with a lot of goalkeepers, and he’s up there with the best,” said Martinez. “(The key is) his maturity, his experience, and we now get to benefit from his performances.”