UEFA Euro 2016
Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France
European Championship underdogs Portugal were crowned European Champions for the first time in their history after defeating hosts France 1-0 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
One might have thought that Portugal wouldn’t need reminding of the 2004 Final which they surprisingly lost to underdogs Greece on home-soil, however, it seemed that the 2004 defeat was an inspiring moment as it has helped the current underdogs Portugal defeat the current-hosts and favourites France on home-soil, who were aiming to replicate their 1984 European Championship success.
A late goal from substitute Éder proved to be the difference for Portugal as the 2004 Finalists won their first ever major trophy. However, they had to do it the hard way without skipper Cristiano Ronaldo who was forced off the field on a stretcher early in the first-half due to an injury sustained after a collision with France’s Dimitri Payet.
Both sides struck the woodwork as either side tried to break the deadlock but it was Portugal, who were hanging on for the majority of the match since Ronaldo’s departure, who found the winner 12 minutes from a penalty shootout.
Portugal initially started well and went close in the third minute when Nani did well to control a cross-field pass from Cédric Soares before firing an effort over the bar on the volley.
In the ninth minute, France went close when a teasing delivery from Payet was met by a glancing header from Antoine Griezmann but he was to be denied by Rui Patrício whose outstretched arm palmed the effort away.
From the resulting corner France went close when Olivier Giroud met the delivery with a header, but it was straight at Patrício, although he should have done better.
In the 22nd minute, Portugal went close when a Raphaël Guerreiro cross was headed clear into the path of Adrien Silva who fired just wide on the volley.
Two minutes later Portugal were forced to make their first change of the game with talisman Ronaldo departing the field after failing to run-off a knee injury suffered moments before. He was replaced by Ricardo Quaresma.
Eleven minutes later, France went close when Payet found Moussa Sissoko who turned his man before firing an effort that Patrício was forced to palm away.
After the hour-mark, France should have gone ahead when a cross from substitute Kingsley Coman found Griezmann who headed over the bar from close-range, although he really should have scored.
In the 79th minute, Portugal went close when a dangerous cross from Nani was palmed away by Hugo Lloris into the path of Quaresma whose acrobatic effort was saved by the Tottenham Hotspur keeper.
Four minutes later, France went close when Sissoko drove an effort from-range but Patrício palmed the effort away.
In the 91st minute, France nearly found the winner when substitute André-Pierre Gignac turned Pepe brilliantly before firing an effort that struck the inside of the post.
The game then went to Extra-Time and in the 94th minute, Portugal went close when Pepe met a delivery from Quaresma following a freekick, but he headed just wide; although he was just offside.
In the 103rd minute Portugal had another good chance when a Portugal corner was met by Éder who headed the ball into the ground but Lloris palmed the effort away.
After the interval, Portugal nearly went ahead when Guerreiro curled a freekick over the wall but he was to be denied by the woodwork, it was an effort that had Lloris well-beaten.
A minute later, Portugal went ahead. Éder did brilliant to shrug off Laurent Koscielny before unleashing an effort that rifled past Lloris from outside the area.
That was the last action of the match as Portugal held on to record a historic victory that crowned them European Champions for the very first time. The result was even more significant as 18 year old Renato Sanches became the youngest ever player to win the tournament and Ricardo Carvalho became the oldest player to win the tournament.
The result meant that Portugal won their first ever major tournament title and that they remained unbeaten during their 2016 European Championship campaign under manager Fernando Santos. The result was France’s second consecutive defeat in a Final after they lost the World Cup on penalties to Italy in 2006, it was also their first defeat of their 2016 European Championship campaign. France also joined Portugal as one of the host countries to lose a European Championship Final. France have won the competition twice before, once in 1984 on home-soil.