Toulouse beat Munster on penalties to make Champions Cup semis

·2-min read
Matthis Lebel scored twice in Toulouse's win at Munster (AFP/Lorraine O'Sullivan) (Lorraine O'Sullivan)

Reigning champions Toulouse beat Munster in a penalty shootout after fighting back to draw 24-24 in Dublin on Saturday to reach the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup.

In only the second penalty shootout in the competition's 27-year history, Conor Murray missed once and Ben Healy twice, while Toulouse landed their first four kicks.

In the previous shootout, Leicester beat Cardiff in the 2009 last four.

The French club will face either the Tigers or Leinster, who met later Saturday, next weekend.

There were more than 40,000 at the Aviva Stadium, for a game moved to Dublin because Ed Sheeran concerts had long been booked for Munster's Thomond Park in Limerick.

In the 19th quarter-final for both clubs, Alex Kendellen bulled over to give Munster an early lead but France fly-half Romain Ntamack responded after 12 minutes.

Just before the half-hour, France winger Matthis Lebel strolled over in the corner following a dominant scrum by the visitors.

Ireland fly-half Joey Carbery missed a 34th-minute penalty before atoning by setting up Keith Earls and converting the try to make the score 14-14 at the interval.

Munster controlled the game after the break. Carbery missed a penalty but full-back Mike Haley crossed after just four minutes of the second half.

Toulouse coach Ugo Mola then sent on three of the international forwards waiting on his bench, including Grand Slam-winning prop Cyril Baille.

- Arnold yellow -

But things got worse for Toulouse with half an hour left. Ireland winger Simon Zebo was tip-tackled late by Rory Arnold, who was shown a yellow card by referee Luke Pearce.

With Wallabies lock Arnold off, Carbery extended Munster's advantage to 10 points, finally succeeding with his third penalty attempt, with a little over 20 minutes of regular time to play.

After Arnold returned, Lebel found a gap following a lineout and extravagantly side-stepped Zebo. Thomas Ramos kicked the simple conversion to silence the crowd and set up a tense final 10 minutes with Toulouse trailing 24-21.

Full-back Ramos then brought the teams level with a 75th-minute penalty.

With the clock in the red Toulouse were penalised inside the Munster half.

Healy just missed the long-range effort to send the game into two 10-minute halves of extra time.

As the players started to tire, and nerves, on and off the field, frayed, Healy and Ramos missed drop goals before Healy sent a late attempt wide to send the game into a penalty shootout.

Healy missed his two efforts either side of Murray's failed attempt, sending Toulouse, faultless with their four kicks, through to a fourth semi-final in as many years.

Later, last year's runners-up La Rochelle host Montpellier before three-time losing finalists Racing 92 face Sale Sharks on Sunday to decide the other semi-final.

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