Toulouse beats Munster on penalties and qualifies for the semi-finals of the Champions Cup

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Paris (AFP)- Defending holders Toulouse beat Munster in a penalty shootout after they fought back to draw 24-24 at Dublin on Saturday to reach the European Champions Cup semi-finals.

In just the second 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 Tigers beat Cardiff in the last four of 2009.

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

“Against a great team, we will keep the memory of what we did here, it’s powerful,” Toulouse side Thomas Ramos told France Télévisions.

“It was a crazy match, with an atypical finish, we kept our heads better than them. We found it tough today, but we’re still in it.”

They were more than 40,000 at the Aviva Stadium, for a match moved to Dublin due to two concerts by Ed Sheeran at Munster’s Thomond Park in Limerick.

In the 19th quarter-final for both clubs, Alex Kendellen gave Munster an early lead but French fly-half Romain Ntamack responded after 12 minutes.

Just before the half-hour mark, Les Bleus winger Matthis Lebel went for a corner following a dominant scrum from 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 it 14-14 at the break.

Munster controlled play after the break.

Carbery missed a penalty but full-back Mike Haley crossed after just four minutes into the second half.

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

Arnold’s Yellow

But things went wrong for Toulouse with the remaining half hour. Ireland winger Simon Zebo was tackled late by Rory Arnold, who received a yellow card from referee Luke Pearce.

Matthis Lebel scored twice in Toulouse’s win at Munster Lorraine O’SullivanAFP

As the Wallabies locked down Arnold, Carbery extended Munster’s advantage to 10 points, eventually succeeding with his third penalty attempt, with just over 20 minutes of regulation time remaining.

After Arnold returned, Lebel found a gap after a lineout and wildly avoided Zebo.

Ramos kicked off the simple conversion to silence the crowd and set up a tense 10-minute finale 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 was penalized in Munster’s half.

Healy narrowly missed the long-range effort to send the game into two 10-minute overtime halves.

As the players began to tire and nerves on and off the pitch frayed, Healy and Ramos missed loose goals before Healy sent in a late attempt to send the game into a penalty shootout.

Healy missed both of his efforts on either side of Murray’s failed attempt, sending Toulouse clear with his four kicks to a fourth semi-final in as many years.

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

About Anne Wurtsbach

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