Football fans have flooded social media in disgust after a number of VAR controversies overshadowed the final pool game in the 'group of death' at Euro 2020.
France and Portugal both sealed their progression to the knockout stages after a 2-2 draw that was mired in controversy.
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Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines after scoring twice from the penalty spot to equal the all-time international goalscoring record - cancelling out Karim Benzema's two strikes for France either side of halftime.
Ronaldo's opening goal came in contentious circumstances after French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris came out to punch a lofted ball into the box, but instead caught Danilo Pereira in the face, leaving the Portugal midfielder needing treatment on the pitch.
While the penalty to Portugal was debatable, it was nothing compared to the decision to award France a spot kick in first half stoppage-time, after striker Kylian Mbappe went down in the area.
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz gave a penalty after Mbappe collided with Nelson Semedo while trying to get on the end of a pass into the box.
After a lengthy VAR check, the decision stood despite vociferous protestations from the Portugal players and outrage from fans.
Disgraceful penalty to France
— Brokosexual (@KhayaC__) June 23, 2021
France respond with a disgraceful penalty call by Benzema scoring it 1-1
— Mahmood Mahmood (@TheMahmood9) June 23, 2021
That penalty given to France is absolutely disgraceful
— Liam Murray (@Liam_Murray39) June 23, 2021
Incredibly though the drama was far from over, with arguably the biggest controversy saved for the very end.
Benzema's second goal from a sumptuous Paul Pogba through ball put France ahead before Ronaldo's equaliser from the spot set up a grandstand finish.
France thought they had the opportunity to win the match in stoppage time, with what could have been an extraordinary fourth spot kick of the match when Kingsley Coman went down inside the box after a clumsy challenge from Portuguese substitute, Bruno Fernandes.
Angry backlash over contentious calls
The Manchester United star appeared to step on Coman's foot inside the box, but after another long VAR consultation the appeals were turned away, without the referee even being offered the chance to check the incident himself.
The series of controversial decisions sparked uproar on social media, with many disgruntled fans suggesting officials were happy with the draw that saw heavyweights France and Portugal both progress.
Bruno kneed him in the back. The reverse angle shows it clearly. Even the play by play guys were saying it was a penalty. No matter the game was rigged and it showed…neither team played for the win
— John 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦 (@John45359393) June 23, 2021
Bruno Fernandes potential penalty vs France. Unfortunately, I can’t find a good replay of this, but in live time it was evident that Bruno steps on the back of Coman’s foot in the box causing him to go down. Should’ve been a penalty for me pic.twitter.com/XPdKDADQD7
— Referee Decisions (@RefDecisions1) June 23, 2021
What an utter disgrace that this didnt even result in a penalty. If it was Coman tackling Bruno Fernandes this way, Bruno F would be bawling and screaming for a red card.
— Vincent Lee (@Rover829) June 24, 2021
To be honest there has been some disgraceful penalty decisions for and against in this euros. If its all still subjective, what does VAR actually do apart from hold up the game and take away the excitement?
— scott rooney (@scottrooney2) June 23, 2021
The penalties in the first half were sus....the 2nd half Ronaldo pen was spot on but they HAVE TO call the foul on Bruno in injury time https://t.co/J4TbmQbCjq
— b (@TheBigAl_1981) June 24, 2021
The referee had a shocker. France penalty wasn't a penalty, the second penalty wasn't a penalty and Coman was fouled by Bruno
— #DISUNOMICS (@_NOMICS) June 23, 2021
Won't be acknowledged, but how dodgy were those decisions tonight in the France-Portugal game? First peno to France a disgrace, Portuguese penalty very lucky, then a blatant one Ignored at the end.
Not a nut, but for sure those two teams were meant to progress...
— My two cents (@Mytwcents) June 23, 2021
Portugal will face the world's top-ranked side Belgium in the first knockout round in Seville.
Fernando Santos' Portugal moved through as one of the four best third-placed sides, for the second straight Euros.
Portugal finished behind Group F winners France and runner-up Germany, who only just qualified after a dramatic 2-2 draw with Hungary in Munich.
"We did everything I wanted us to do (in the 4-2 defeat) against Germany," Portuguese coach Santos told RTP. "The result was clearly fair."
World champions France will next take on Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday.
"It was a fight, it wasn't easy," France coach Didier Deschamps told TF1.
"We tried to win and at the end of the match, obviously, knowing the result of Germany, that allowed us to be first, which is the best place.
"I know very well that a new competition will be starting from the last 16."
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