EURO 2016 Final: Portugal 1-0 France (AET)

By Lewis Wright
Jul. 11, 2016

Éder’s extra-time winner earns Portugal their first ever major trophy with victory over hosts France in Saint-Denis. 

The substitute – who plays his football in France with Lille – had been on the pitch for just half an hour when he drilled a low finish past Hugo Lloris in the 109th minute of the match.

Further still, Fernando Santos’ men were able to defeat their hosts without the country’s star and arguably greatest ever player in Cristiano Ronaldo, who was stretchered off midway through the first period with a knee injury that he picked up in the early stages of the half.

Fernando Santos was forced into substituting his star man Cristiano Ronaldo just 25 minutes into the final.

France were the pre-tournament favourites and had won both their previous major competitions on home soil in the 1984 European Championships and 1998 World Cup finals.

But it was not to be in a match where both sides appeared to be struggling with fatigue on a muggy night just outside the French capital, with the sheer amount of football that had been played catching up on even the most well-conditioned of players.

Chances were at a minimum throughout the tie and Ronaldo was still able to influence his side’s fate from the touchline, as he joined Santos in coaching the team through a challenging final 20 minutes of French pressure.

A cagy opening period almost came to life when Payet put in a strong challenge on Ronaldo near the halfway line, and although the Real Madrid man gave his all to continue, there was simply no coming back from the injury that brought tears to his eyes as Portugal’s main man was forced to leave the field on the biggest night of his life.

Pepe’s slip allowed Payet to float a high ball towards Antoine Griezmann, but the tournament’s top scorer was denied by one of Portugal’s outstanding players at the Championships in Rui Patrício.

Patrício was called into action again a short while later, as the lively Moussa Sissoko fired a powerful effort at the ‘keeper, but that was the closest either side came to scoring in a quiet first period in which both sides had been strategic rather than slick.

France Head coach Didier Deschamps turned to 20 year-old Kingsley Coman in the second period in place of the detained Payet, with the hope of using the winger’s pace to get in behind a resolute Portuguese backline.

Coman struggled to do that with fullback Cédric performing superbly once more, but he did deliver to Griezmann – who again failed to convert a wonderful headed opportunity – and to striker Olivier Giroud, who could not find a way past Patrício.

It was a frustrating night for Antoine Griezmann, but he did walk away with the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer.

Sissoko saw another effort saved by the Sporting Lisbon stopper, while Lloris held Ricardo Quaresma’s effort well - who had tried his luck with an overhead kick after the French goalkeeper could only punch Nani’s shot/ cross away from goal.

Coman’s fellow substitute André-Pierre Gignac was the final player to go close in normal time as he miscued a shot onto the post, before Raphaël Guerreiro would have been mythed not to have seen his delightful free-kick strike the inside of the French bar at the start of extra-time.

But Portugal had improved immensely after referee Mark Clattenburg brought an end to normal time, and they had their moment of history when substitute Éder struck a low effort brilliantly past Lloris to score the most important goal of his career and win Portugal their first ever major international trophy.

Eder was the hero for Portugal at the Stade de France.

As good as they had been in recent matches and particularly in scoring five past Iceland at the quarter-final stage, hosts France just did not turn up when it mattered most, and a major reason for that was their opponent’s desire and tactical nous.

The Portuguese had not played the most attractive football at any stage throughout the Championships, but they were unbeaten from day one and conceded just a goal in the final seven hours of their Euro 2016 campaign.  

Portugal fans could finally forget about the disappointment of losing to Greece on home soil in the Euro 2004 final.

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