Portugal overcame the loss of injured captain Cristiano Ronaldo to pip France 1-0 in the European Championship final on Sunday, with a goal in extra time from substitute Eder securing their country’s first football title.
Just as the final looked destined for a penalty shootout, Eder cut through the French defense and struck a low shot from 25 meters past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 109th minute at the Stade de France.
Twelve years after losing to Greece on home soil in their last final appearance, it was Portugal’s turn to spoil the host nation’s party. And they achieved it by winning only one of their seven games at Euro 2016 inside 90 minutes.
It was dull and stodgy at times but the record books will only show that Portugal went from third-place in its group to champion, with little help from Ronaldo in its last match.
European football’s biggest match lost its biggest name midway through the first half of a cagey final on the outskirts of the French capital.
Ronaldo went down under Dimitri Payet’s ninth-minute challenge and was twice forced off to receive treatment on the touchline.
However determined Ronaldo was to lead Portugal to glory, his left knee could cope no more and he was carried off on a stretcher midway through the first half.
Ronaldo was in tears but he returned just before extra time to address his weary teammates. They seemed to be inspired by Ronaldo’s re-emergence and the Real Madrid forward was soon leaping off the bench in celebrations. Then he was lying on the turf again at the final whistle, this time in disbelief rather than pain.
Payet clattered into him near the halfway line in the seventh minute. After treatment, the Real Madrid star tried to play on, but even with his knee bandaged he eventually sat down and called to be substituted.