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France, Portugal play to scoreless first half in Hamburg

Eduardo Camavinga France Pepe Portugal Eduardo Camavinga and Pepe - The Canadian Press

France and Portugal played to a scoreless first half, largely devoid of action, in their UEFA Euro 2024 quarter-final from Hamburg.

Didier Deschamps made two changes to his starting XI from the Round of 16 win over Belgium, one by choice and one by circumstance.

Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga was handed a start in the place of the suspended Adrien Rabiot. The Juventus midfielder received a one-game ban for booking accumulation. Up front, Deschamps preferred Paris Saint-Germain's Randal Kolo Muani to Inter's Marcus Thuram.

Roberto Martinez went with the same starting XI from Portugal's dramatic penalties victory over Slovenia on Monday.

The match started with both teams making a concerted effort to ensure the other's danger man didn't get hold of the ball with France isolating Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal attempting to sideline Kylian Mbappé. With Les Bleus seeing more of the ball in the opening minutes, Joao Palhinha did well to stop a France break in the fourth.

In the 10th, William Saliba took Bruno Fernandes down just outside the area, but the Manchester United captain's subsequent free kick was poor. Minutes later Rafael Leao looked dangerous on the left and was able to find the trailing Nuno Mendes. Instead of looking for help in the area, Mendes shot well wide from distance.

France's first good chance came from Theo Hernandez in the 20th. The Milan hit a well struck ball from distance that forced Diogo Costa into a diving save. Ten minutes later, the ageless Pepe did well to strip Kolo Muani of possession in the area before he was able to get a shot off from close range.

Late in the half, Portugal was awarded a free kick from a dangerous spot. With both Ronaldo and Fernandes standing over it, it was the latter who took it, sending his shot over the bar.

The winner of the match moves on to the semifinals to take on Spain, who dramatically defeated hosts Germany, 2-1, in extra time earlier on Friday with a 119th-minute winner from Mikel Merino.