Portugal are UEFA EURO 2016 champions. The team that drew all three of their group games, that won only once inside 90 minutes all tournament, beat hosts France after extra time at Saint-Denis to get their hands on their first major trophy.
They did it without the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo too, their captain forced off early in the first half through injury. Fernando Santos's side clung on at times but, with Ronaldo orchestrating things from the technical area as much as their coach by the end, they eventually provided the one moment of magic required. Éder's fizzing 20-metre strike in the second half of extra time was just too good.
Such a scenario looked impossible after eight minutes, Ronaldo initially continuing after a heavy collision with Dimitri Payet before eventually being replaced. There were tears and a standing ovation from all corners as he was taken off. All the talk, all the analysis, all the predictions – out the window. Off went 61 international goals.
One man chasing only his second was Moussa Sissoko. The France midfielder was rampant and threatened to break the deadlock soon after Ronaldo's departure yet his shot was saved.
Rui Patrício had earlier thwarted Antoine Griezmann, athletically tipping away the in-form forward's looping header. Portugal offered little in those opening exchanges, three passes straight out of play encouraging the hosts.
Kingsley Coman came on for Payet inside the hour and soon teed up Griezmann for surely the chance of the game – Les Bleus' No7 was unmarked but headed over. Though Olivier Giroud briefly got in on the act with a low effort, Rui Patrício was again up to the task. He had to be sharper still to keep out Sissoko's thumping strike later in the half.
Only once, well into added time, was the Portugal keeper beaten. Substitute André-Pierre Gignac turned in the box and scuffed a shot into the ground which bobbled towards the net only to bounce agonisingly back off a post.
Hugo Lloris had been far less employed in regulation time, only really called into action to claw away Nani's miscued cross and then hold Ricardo Quaresma's acrobatic attempt from the rebound. Though he subsequently dealt with Éder's header, the French captain was rescued by the crossbar when Raphael Guerreiro fired in a free-kick and, with 109 minutes on the clock, could do nothing to keep out the sensational winner.
Match analysis from Stade de France
Man of the Match: Pepe (Portugal)
Pepe missed the semi-final with a thigh injury but returned in style, keeping adidas Golden Boot winner Griezmann as quiet as could have been hoped. "We've written a brilliant page in the story of Portuguese football," said the centre-back.
All without Ronaldo
The man Portugal's hopes apparently rested on was out of action after less than ten minutes. To watch him battle on for a quarter of an hour was both desperately sad and hugely admirable. It was indicative of his relentless drive to have an impact – a desire that is heightened on the big occasion. For him then to cajole his players before extra time and gesticulate desperately throughout the additional 30 minutes was testimony to his team spirit. He was, if only briefly, a coach as well as a star player.
Who needs goals for drama?
This was not exactly thrill-a-minute stuff. Clear-cut opportunities were at a premium and some of the biggest names on the field were either not at their best or not on the pitch at all. However, it quickly became evident that one moment would decide this. That knowledge that someone was only a split-second from becoming a hero made for a gloriously nervy night. The tension was palpable throughout the stadium.
EURO2016.com team reporters' views
Joe Walker, Portugal (@UEFAcomJoeW)
I'm quite frankly speechless. Portugal have won this against all the odds. All this after three draws in the group stage. Tonight they were not pretty but they were mighty effective. They did a job on France, stifling their main threats, with Paul Pogba especially subdued, and owed goalkeeper Ruí Patrício a debt of thanks too. Fair play to Santos for seeing they needed something up top and for gambling on Éder. The forward, who plays his club football in France, was brilliant after coming off the bench and the game's standout moment belonged to him.
David Crossan, France (@UEFAcomDavidC)
I am still struggling to understand how France lost that. Everything was set up for Didier Deschamps' charges to lift the trophy as Portugal did not offer a great deal going forward after Ronaldo left the field. Rui Patrício was excellent in the Portuguese goal and Griezmann must be wondering how he failed to convert that free header. Gignac was also unfortunate and France, who had done enough even though not at their best, were caught by a sucker-punch. This was not the happy ending the hosts had anticipated.
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