Cristiano Ronaldo vs Kylian Mbappe battle will be settled by Portugal and France’s new heroes

PORTUGAL vs FRANCE: All eyes may be on the men in attack for both teams in Hamburg on Friday, but there are also key players for both teams between the posts

Diogo Costa became the first goalkeeper to save three penalties in a European Championship shootout((Getty Images)

Missed penalties and broken noses mean this European Championship isn’t going entirely to plan for Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappé.

But for the men who have to prevent themselves from scoring in the exciting quarter-final in Hamburg on Friday evening, things could hardly be better.

Diogo Costa enters the last eight as Portugal’s new hero. His three penalty saves against Slovenia – the first in a Euros shootout – have cemented him in the hearts of the nation, and indeed a grateful Ronaldo after he dried his eyes.

The 24-year-old Porto goalkeeper was dubbed “European football’s most hidden secret” by his cheerful and grateful manager Roberto Martinez after his exploits for Slovenia, and he attributes his success to a simple approach.

When asked how he had saved the three penalties from Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic, he gave a very matter-of-fact answer.

“I just went with my gut feeling,” he said. “I thought I had to do it and I’m glad I did. Goalkeepers sometimes barely touch the ball, but this makes it worth it.”

He’s gotten this far by trusting his instincts, and he’s not going to change that now.

Costa’s save when Benjamin Sesko was one-on-one with him in extra time was just as impressive as his penalty save. If he can produce a similar performance, Mbappé and co. will have to do something special to beat him.

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