Ronaldo redemption helps Portugal march on at Euro 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo helped steer Portugal into the quarter-finals of the UEFA European Championship Germany 2024, where they will meet a France side containing fellow Roshn Saudi League star N’Golo Kante.

Ronaldo, the Al Nassr captain, failed to convert a penalty in extra-time as Portugal were held to a 0-0 draw against Slovenia in Frankfurt, but he converted the 2016 champions' first spot-kick in the shootout to set them on their way to victory.

Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa was the hero at Waldstadion, saving all three of Slovenia’s penalties for Portugal to progress 3-0 from the shootout.

An emotional Ronaldo, top scorer in last season’s RSL with a record 35 goals, said afterwards: "Even the strongest people have their [bad] days. I was at rock bottom when the team needed me the most.

"Sadness at the start is joy at the end. That's what football is. Moments, inexplicable moments. I feel sad and happy at the same time. But the important thing is to enjoy it. The team did an extraordinary job. We fought right to the end, and we deserved it because we had more authority."

As he did in the 2023-24 RSL, Ronaldo has made more history this past month in appearing at a record sixth Euros. He is also the tournament’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 14, and has made the most appearances, at 28.

Manager Roberto Martinez described Ronaldo as a "constant example" for all Portuguese players.

"When you see a player, the only player to play in six Euros, with the desire and that belief [like a] young man - those emotions are incredible for someone who has won everything and experienced everything," Martinez said.

"He doesn't need to care that much and that is why I thank him for the way he is. For caring for the group. For being someone who after missing a penalty was the first penalty taker [in the shootout]. I knew for certain he had to be the first penalty taker and show us the way to the victory. We are all very, very proud of our captain.”

Portugal, who introduced Al Hilal midfielder Ruben Neves late on, will face France in the last eight on Friday after the two-time champions defeated Belgium 1-0 in their last-16 clash in Dusseldorf.

Al Ittihad midfielder Kante, named Player of the Match in France’s opening two games in Germany, played all 90-plus minutes as his team came through thanks to an 85th-minute own goal from Jan Vertonghen.

Al Qadsiah goalkeeper Koen Casteels made his four straight appearance for Belgium at the tournament, with Al Shabab winger Yannick Carrasco playing 88 minutes against the French.

Meanwhile, the RSL will be represented in the quarter-finals too by Spain duo Aymeric Laporte and Nacho. The former, who helped Al Nassr finished runner-up last season, completed the full match in the 4-1 victory against Georgia, while new Al Qadsiah signing Nacho was an unused substituted.

Al Okhdood defender Solomon Kvirkvelia was named on the bench for Georgia, but did not come on to make his fourth appearance of the tournament.