Portugal Spoil France’s party with Extra-time Win

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.

Tongai Mwenje

Tongai Mwenje is a Senior Editor with Zimbabwe's largest online sports magazine Sportbrief www.sportbrief.co.zw. He has been writing professionally since 2012 and currently writes for technology and sport blogs. He has vast experience in digital marketing, sports reporting and analysis. He is also a Sports and Technology columnist with Financial Gazette Online Sports Column and Technology Magazine respectively.

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