Tired Mbappé forced off, missed PKs in France win

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France star and captain Kylian Mbappé asked to be substituted before the start of the second period of extra time in the Euro 2024 quarterfinal 5-3 shootout win over Portugal because he was tired.

“I asked to be taken off,” Mbappé said. “At half-time in extra time, I told him [France coach Didier Deschamps] that I didn’t feel it anymore, that I was too tired.”

The usually prolific Mbappé has not been at his best during the Euros, scoring once from the penalty spot against Poland but otherwise failing to convert chances and looking uncomfortable in a mask after breaking his nose in the first game.

Against Portugal in the quarterfinal on Friday, he spent time on the ground and briefly removed his mask after a hard hit from the ball on the side of his face, before later asking to be taken off and missing the shootout.

“Yes, he’s always very honest with me and the team, when he feels he doesn’t have the capacity to accelerate … He’s not at his top form … he felt very tired indeed,” France coach Deschamps said, referring to muscle fatigue and the nose issue.

“I saw him struggling during the first period of extra time. It was pointless [to leave him on]. Kylian has always been honest with me and the group, so it was only natural to bring in some new blood.”

In his absence, Mbappé’s teammates did him proud, scoring a perfect five penalties to beat Portugal.

“You have to go beyond your fitness, that’s part of being a footballer,” the France and Real Madrid star said. “I have to stay invested and always be there for my teammates … Whatever happens, the most important is that we win. I have only scored one goal but we are in the semifinals and I’m very happy.”

The victory ended the recent heartbreak of Mbappé and France in shootouts, having lost in them at their past two major tournaments — in the last 16 at the Euros in 2021 and in the 2022 World Cup final.

France will play Spain in the semifinals after its extra time win over Germany in Stuttgart earlier Friday, with Les Bleus staying on course for a third European Championship title after 1984 and 2000.

“We are solid and exemplary in defense and that is essential at a major tournament,” Deschamps said. “When you don’t score a lot of goals, it’s best not to concede a lot of goals, either.

“But we need to score more goals .. we are at the mercy of our opponents.”

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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