African born Eder fires Portugal to Euro victory
Portugal are the 2016 European Championship winners, beating hosts France 1-0 in a tightly-contested Final at the Stade de France on Sunday night.
Despite Nani’s early shot which blazed over the bar, it was the French who made the early inroads in the initial stages, tournament leading goal-scorer Antoine Griezmann guiding a looping header goalwards which Rui Patricio single-handedly swatted away on ten minutes.
Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko was having a fine game, making strong and determined run into the area before bringing Patricio into the action once more as he tipped over a fierce shot from range.
The undoubted talking point of the half came midway through however, as Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was stretchered off after failed to run off an earlier clash of knees with French star Dimitri Payet, the skipper reduced to tears as his Final impact was cut short.
Patricio continued to be the busier of the two shot-stoppers, with neither breached as the two teams headed into the tunnel deadlocked at 0-0.
The second half’s first chance fell to French midfielder Paul Pogba, who lashed his effort well over the bar, before substitute Kingsley Coman threaded a delightful ball to Griezmann, who’s well-taken shot from a tight angle was smothered once again by Patricio.
Coman was again involved in the build-up of Les Bleus’ next chance, whipping in a fine ball which Griezmann could only head over the bar from close range for his best chance of the game.
Substitute Coman continued to shine, feeding in Olivier Giroud who again forced a good save from Patricio, this time at his near post.
Both sides upped the ante in the closing stages looking for the winner, Nani’s cross-cum-shot almost taking Hugo Lloris off-guard, before the Tottenham goalkeeper gratefully swallowed up Ricardo Quaresma’s acrobatic follow-up effort.
Sissoko once again tested Patricio with a pile-driver from range late-on, before substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac produced his side’s best change in stoppage time, skinning Pepe before watching his shot bounce off the post and cleared away, as the game headed into extra-time.
Chances were few and far between in the extra 30 minutes, yet a mistaken handball outside the French box allowed Raphael Guerreiro to step up for the free-kick, only to smash it against the cross-bar.
Yet moments later, Portugal did have the lead, second-half substitute Eder shrugging off the French defence with a determined run at goal before drilling home from range to give the Euro 2004 runners-up the lead.
Fernando Santos’s side withstood the remainder of the French attacks to see out the narrow win on their opponents’ homeground, as Portugal – despite winning just one of their seven matches throughout the tournament after 90 minutes – lifted their maiden European Championship crown. –Kickoff.com
Portugal XI: Patrício, Cédric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro, Carvalho, Mário, Adrien Silva (Moutinho 66’), Renato Sanches (Eder 79’), Ronaldo (Quaresma 24’), Nani
France XI: Lloris; Sagna, Koscielny, Umtiti, Evra; Matuidi, Pogba; Sissoko (Martial 110’), Griezmann, Payet (Coman 58’); Giroud (Gignac 78’)