Diogo Jota through to Euro quarter-final despite crying Cristiano Ronaldo’s big miss

Portugal booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Euros despite a penalty miss by Cristiano Ronaldo, with Diogo Jota playing a pivotal role off the bench.

Jota was substitute for the fourth game in a row at this summer’s Euros, unable to break into the Portugal side as he manages his fitness in Germany.

But with Slovenia producing a heroic display in their last-16 clash on Monday night, manager Roberto Martinez turned to the Liverpool forward as a late roll of the dice.

It was an influential change, with Jota twice setting Ronaldo up for big chances which the egocentric striker contrived to waste.

After spending the game skewing free-kick after free-kick high, wide and straight to the goalkeeper, the No. 7 was sent through by Jota only to fire it into the sprawling Jan Oblak.

That came in the final minute of normal time, and midway through extra time, Jota laid on an even more convincing chance for his captain.

A driving run from Liverpool’s No. 20 saw him cut through the lines with ease, before being clattered in the area to earn a penalty which Ronaldo saw saved by the outstanding Oblak.

Ronaldo was in tears between the two additional halves, with Slovenia looking increasingly likely to grab the vital goal that would send them through to the quarters.

They were even handed the perfect opportunity to do so, with Pepe’s slip allowing Benjamin Sesko through, only for the RB Leipzig striker to fire too close to the goalkeeper.

That goalkeeper, Diogo Costa, then proved the hero as the tie went to a penalty shootout, saving all three of Slovenia’s spot-kicks before Bernardo Silva converted a winning third for Portugal.

Victory sets up a quarter-final between Portugal and France on Friday evening, with the latter overcoming Belgium 1-0 earlier on Monday.

Ibrahima Konate again went unused throughout the clash, not given the chances to impress that Jota has at least enjoyed under Martinez so far.

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - Wednesday, June 26, 2024: Portugal's substitute Diogo Jota before the UEFA Euro 2024 Group F match between Georgia and Portugal at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is a convincing case for Jota to even start the quarter-final, but the Portugal boss faces the same conundrum many managers have faced in recent years: how to drop Ronaldo and get away with it.

On merit, Ronaldo should not be starting for Portugal, but managers for both club and country have consistently struggled to omit him based on reputation.

Jota is no like-for-like replacement, but in his 55 minutes against Slovenia he showed he can offer a more decisive threat that is more cohesive with the rest of the team.