Chennai: In the end, Portugal didn’t need Cristiano Ronaldo to win their first major international trophy in football. Although the talismanic forward came off injured after 25 minutes against hosts France in the final of Euro 2016 on Sunday, his team mates rose to the occasion brilliantly to post a 1-0 win in Paris.
Portugal had enough warriors on the field to win the war of attrition after losing their general. The triumph cemented Ronaldo’s place in the sanctum of football gods, even as he acknowledged the enormity of the achievement by shedding copious amount of tears.
Substitute Eder was Portugal’s unlikely hero as he struck a 25-metre winner in extra-time. The little-known forward delivered the coup de grace in the 109th minute with an angled shot that evaded the despairing dive of the French goalie, Hugo Lloris. France, who had been hoping to complete a hat trick of titles on home soil after Euro 1984 and 1998 Fifa World Cup, ran out of time and ideas.
The final wasn’t a blockbuster in quality as both teams struggled for fluency in the attacking half. France’s best chance fell to Andre-Pierre Gignac in the dying minutes of injury time but the substitute’s shot rebounded off an upright. Portugal, who barely survived the group stage with three draws, weren’t the best team of the tournament but they stepped up to the plate when it mattered most with a stellar defensive performance.
According to reports, France had got an open-top bus at the ready for the victory procession but the party poopers from Portugal stole a march on them....