We shouldn’t take semi-final qualification for granted, says Deschamps after narrow France win

Didier Deschamps told reporters that his France side did well to progress after a narrow penalty shootout victory over Portugal tonight.

Nothing separated the sides in a goalless two hours of football in Hamburg, and it took nine penalties – one into the post by João Felix – to finally send France through.

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What did Didier Deschamps say?

“It was a very tense, tight match. It could have gone either way, even if we had a more laborious end to the match in extra time with less of the ball. There was fatigue, too. It’s decided on small details but I’m happy for the group. They pushed themselves to the limit and swung it to the right side for us.”

France haven’t brought the wow factor some thought they would to EURO2024, and are still yet to score from open play in five matches. Kylian Mbappé has scored from the penalty spot, but other than that him and Antoine Griezmann have not found the net However, Deschamps said: “We’re in the semi-finals and it’s something we shouldn’t take for granted, even if we may be used to it recently. I was already enjoying being in the quarter-finals. Now we go to win it.

“I will always defend my players. For various reasons, Kylian and Antoine are not playing their best football compared with what we know they can do.

“Despite all of this, we’re here. Of course, both are supposed to make us more efficient and we lack efficiency – but they’re hanging in there. They are part of a team and beyond the football qualities that they have there’s also the team strength that is still alive.”

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Mbappé, the captain, was substituted before the penalty shootout. Asked to explain this, Deschamps said: “He was obviously tired and it is not easy. I saw him struggling in the first half of extra time. There was no point in leaving him on, even if he was a penalty taker. Kylian has always been honest with me and the group. It seemed normal to me to bring on some freshness.”

One bright spark for France, though, was Ousmane Dembélé. He returned to the lineup after missing out in the round of 16 and won tonight’s player of the match award.

“He played very well. He had really wanted to run and there was also fatigue on the other side and he has the capacity to make a difference. There are several shots that he could have put on target but he does have this capacity, even if he didn’t start this match and didn’t play the former one.”

When you don’t score a lot of goals it’s better not to get goals scored against you, but i would prefer to have a team that is more efficient in terms of goal scoring.

Deschamps was positive about his team’s performance as a whole, but did admit: “We need to score more goals – when you score more goals, you can manage things.”

What did Ousmane Dembélé say?

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Dembélé, France’s player of the match and first penalty taker, said to reporters: “We had practised penalties and felt confident going into them. We learned a lot from our experience at the World Cup in Qatar [losing the final on penalties to Argentina]. I think we deserve this victory.

“I took that decision myself (to go first) – every player took their decision and everybody was very, very confident prior to the penalty shootout.”

Reflecting on the performance as a whole, Dembélé added: “From a defensive point of view we did a great job the whole start of the game, the substitutes as well, and that’s how we won this match. We were solid, we tried to attack, to have a lot of goalscoring opportunities which we did.

“It’s good that we had goal scoring opportunities, what lacks is efficiency.”

France now look ahead to an encounter with the tournament’s form side Spain, who knocked out hosts Germany this evening. Read reaction from both camps, and follow tomorrow’s quarterfinals and the rest of the tournament, here on FromTheSpot.