Report as dramatic night ends with France sealing top spot in Group F; 2-2 draw also sees Portugal reach the last 16 as one of four best third-place finishers; Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both hit doubles; France will face Switzerland in last 16, while Portugal will play Belgium
Thursday 24 June 2021 06:46, UK
France and Portugal played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in Budapest as Didier Deschamps' side secured top spot in Group F, while Portugal still qualified for the last 16 as one of four best third-place finishers.
On a dramatic night at Euro 2020, former Real Madrid team-mates Cristiano Ronaldo (30) and Karim Benzema (45+2) converted controversial penalties to leave the two sides locked at 1-1 at half-time.
However, Benzema's second of the night (47) - given after VAR had adjudged him to be onside - sent Portugal bottom of the group and crashing out of the tournament for a short while, before Ronaldo converted his second penalty (60) - his fifth goal of the tournament and 109th international goal - to keep his side's Euro dreams alive.
Cristiano Ronaldo's two goals against France took him to 109 international goals, equalling the world record held by Ali Daei of Iran.
Portugal, who occupied every single position in the group at certain times throughout the game, looked on course for a showdown with England at Wembley, but Germany's late equaliser against Hungary secured them second spot, meaning Fernando Santos' side will face Belgium in the last 16 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the point sees France, who were already qualified for the last 16, secure top spot in the group and set up a tie with Switzerland.
After a sedate opening, the loudest cheer from the crowd at the Puskas Arena came when news filtered through of Hungary's goal against Germany in Munich.
France struggled to get going but they did create the first real opening of the game as Paul Pogba slid in Kylian Mbappe, but the forward's first-time shot was well saved by Rui Patricio.
Then the first half became a tale of two penalties.
Portugal: Rui Patricio (8), Nelson Semedo (6), Pepe (7), Dias (6), Guerreiro (7), Joao Moutinho (7), Danilo Pereira (6), Sanches (8), Bernardo Silva (8), Ronaldo (8), Jota (6).
Subs: Palhinha (6), Neves (6), Fernandes (6), Dalot (n/a), Oliveira (n/a).
Portugal: Lloris (6), Kounde (5), Varane (6), Kimpembe (6), Hernandez (5), Pogba (8), Kante (7), Tolisso (7), Griezmann (6), Mbappe (7), Benzema (8).
Subs: Digne (n/a), Rabiot (7), Coman, (6), Sissoko (n/a).
Man of the match: Karim Benzema.
Portugal were awarded the first when Danilo Pereira got his head to the ball ahead of the onrushing Hugo Lloris. The Spurs goalkeeper's attempted punch caught the Portugal midfielder in the head and the referee pointed to the spot.
France weren't happy with the decision, but a VAR check stayed with the on-field decision and Ronaldo stepped up to score his fourth goal of the tournament.
After a pretty lacklustre first half from France, they were then handed a way back into the contest when Mbappe went down under a challenge from Nelson Semedo in the penalty area. Again, the referee pointed to the spot and the decision infuriated the Portugal players.
They felt it was soft, but VAR once again stuck with the referee and Benzema stepped up to bring his side level on the stroke of halftime.
Benzema struck again just after halftime after being played in by Pogba's superb pass. Initially the goal was ruled out for offside, but VAR intervened to give the goal and at that stage, Portugal were heading out of the competition they won by beating France in 2016.
However, Ronaldo - who helped win the penalty, which was given for handball against Jules Kounde - brought his side level, beating Lloris again for a record-equalling goal.
Portugal then needed heroics from Patricio who tipped Pogba's strike onto the crossbar before getting up to block the rebound from Antoine Griezmann.
The game had sprung into life after a somewhat cagey opening but as news filtered through of Germany's fight back against Hungary, both sides were happy to see out the remaining minutes on what was a dramatic evening.
Portugal boss Fernando Santos: "What I really liked was the team's collective behaviour. When I was asked what we had to do that was different from the game against Germany, I said it was to be like ourselves. We were strong, consistent, with a great spirit. We can continue to improve. In the second half, we didn't start well but we regrouped."
France boss Didier Deschamps: "It was a fight and it wasn't easy. We gave them the two goals from mistakes. We tried to win it. It means we're top and that's the best position. We're going to appreciate it and recover now as a new competition is starting."
Aged 33 years and 186 days old, Benzema became the oldest player ever to score more than once in a major tournament match for France (World Cup/Euros), overtaking Zinedine Zidane (31 years 356 days) v England at Euro 2004.
Benzema, who went on to score a brace, scored his first goal with France since October 8, 2015, five years and 258 days ago.
It's the longest gap between two goals with Les Bleus since Didier Deschamps (seven years between his third and fourth goal, also against Portugal).
France will play Switzerland in the last 16 on Monday, June 28 (kick-off 8pm).
Meanwhile, Portugal have set up a round-of-16 clash with Belgium on Sunday, June 27 (kick-off 8pm).