Portugal lose Ronaldo but beat France to win Euro 2016
Hosts and tournament favourites France are felled by extra time winner from Eder after Ronaldo injury
Portugal 1 France 0
A goal from Eder in extra-time won Portugal their first major title and broke French hearts as Euro 2016 came to a tense climax.
Hosts France had been firm favourites going into the final at the Stade de France in Paris but they failed to reproduce the form that had seen them beat Germany in the semi-finals three days earlier.
Perhaps tiredness was a factor, or maybe the pressure got to them, but either way Didier Deschamps's men didn't do themselves justice in front of their fans. "The overriding emotion is of huge disappointment, you have to accept it," reflected the France coach. "Clearly we had our chances but we weren't cool-headed enough."
The Portuguese victory was all the more remarkable considering that their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, was stretchered off on 25 minutes after a heavy collision with Dimitri Payet. The Real Madrid striker later appeared on the touchline to cheer on his teammates, his knee heavily strapped, and when the final whistle sounded his earlier tears of pain turned to ones of elation.
"This is one of the happiest moments in my career, I always said I'd like to win something with Portugal," declared Ronaldo. "Today I was unfortunate, I was injured, but I always believed that these players, together with the strategy, would be strong enough to beat France."
France will look back and wonder how it was they lost to a team that finished third in its group, won only one match the whole tournament in normal time - the semi-final victory against Wales - and were missing their key player for most of the game.
The answer lies in their resilient and well-organised opponents, who may not add much in aesthetics to the Beautiful Game, but know how to defend. Rui Patricio was once more impressive in goal, while Pepe and Jose Fonte blunted the French attack and ensured Antoine Griezmann never got the chance to add to his six goals at the tournament.
The closest France did come to scoring was at the end of 90 minutes when substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac twisted and turned in the six-yard box to fire off a shot that beat Patricio but not the post.
Portugal were expected to play for penalties in the 30 minutes of extra time but they started to sense France were flagging and when Raphael Guerreiro hit the bar with a free-kick on 108 minutes they began to believe victory was in their grasp.
Then, just a minute later, Eder unleashed a spectacular low drive from 25 yards that found the gap between Hugo Lloris's outstretched hand and his right-hand post.
"Cristiano told me I would be scoring the winning goal!" exclaimed Eder. "A lot of hard work went into it. We worked hard from the first minute and right from the beginning of the Euros. We were spectacular. The Portuguese people deserve this."
Pepe, named man of the match for his defensive display, said the loss of his Real Madrid teammate so early had galvanised the team. "We were going to fight for Ronaldo," he told reporters. "We wanted to win this match. We wrote a brilliant page in the book of Portuguese footballing history."