Ronaldo-less Portugal beat hosts France 1-0 to win Euro 2016 title
Paris, July 11 (IANS) Ronaldo-less Portugal, which had never won any major soccer tournament title, upset hosts France 1-0 in the extra time of the breathtaking Euro 2016 final on Sunday night.
In the history-making triumph, it was substitute forward Eder, who rarely scores for the national team, took a pass from Joao Moutinho in the 109th minute, cut onto his right, and unleashed the perfect strike towards the near-corner. France keeper and captain Hugo Lloris made a stretch but still failed to touch the ball.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the talisman of the Portuguese team, got an injury only seven minutes into the game when French midfielder Dimitri Payet put in a challenge on him, and caught him with the follow-through, bringing play to a halt, Xinhua reported.
Although Ronaldo continued playing for some time, he had to be replaced by Ricardo Quaresma in the 25th minute.
The injury cast a shadow over the match. France were back in possession. Midfielder Moussa Sissoko made several flash runs, as he injected a sudden burst of pace to send himself through.
Besides Sissoko, playmaker Antoine Griezmann who had scored six times to take the Golden Boot of the tournament, made huge threats to Portugal’s defense. However, luck was not on his side.
The statistics showed that France gained the upper hand with 56 percent ball possession and 7 on-target shots. But Portugal keeper Rui Patricio performed brilliantly to deny the hosts’ willingness to win the battle in 90 minutes.
The tough duel witnessed six yellow cards for Portugal and four for the hosts.
This is the fourth meeting between Portugal and France in a major tournament. France have won the previous three, all in semifinals — Euro 1984, Euro 2000 and the 2006 World Cup.
Portugal put in a defensive masterclass to deny the French the trophy on home soil. Fernando Santos’ side, who have developed a flair for the dramatics, win their third match of the tournament in extra-time, after playing out to a sixth draw in seven games at Euro 2016.