Euro 2016 round up: Portugal 1 France 0 (aet) - and what the result means

Players react after Portugal won the Uefa Euro 2016 final match between Portugal and France.
Players react after Portugal won the Uefa Euro 2016 final match between Portugal and France.PHOTO: EPA

Euro 2016 has been the tournament for the underdogs and so it proved again in the final.

For all that debutants Wales, Iceland and Northern Ireland achieved at the continent showpiece, Portugal have overshadowed them by becoming the surprise winners.

Substitute Eder was the unlikely hero. His first competitive goal for the Selecao came in the 109th minute and it was all that was required for Portugal to win their first major tournament title.

Few had expected Portugal to stun the hosts, who have a strong record against them and a strong record on home soil. France had won their last 10 meetings with Portugal and had not lost a major tournament game at home since 1960.

Fewer envisioned Portugal lifting the Henri Delaunay Trophy when talisman and captain Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted in the 25th minute because of a knee injury. Portugal were for long periods without their record goalscorer - his 61 international goals just nine shy of the entire French team combined.

 
 

But Portugal found a way to win. They may have at times been one of the most boring, defensive-minded teams in France. Indeed, the final at the Stade de France was not a classic. But Portugal manager Fernando Santos has always insisted that he is happy with the "ugly duckling" of Euro 2016 winning ugly.

Led by centre-back Pepe, and with defensive shield William Carvarlho in front of him, Portugal sucked the life out of the game. Clear cut opportunities were few and far between. But, having conceded with the only shot on target they faced against Greece in the 2004 final, Portugal knew that they could steal victory with a defensively-sound performance.

Ronaldo's tears of frustration soon turned into tears of joy. Despite playing a limited part in the final, he has played a major role in Portugal's maiden title. The Real Madrid superstar can finally say that he has won a major honour with his country.

Yet Sunday night was not about him. It was about a team that found a way to prevail against the odds. Prior to the title decider, Portugal had played the most games in the history of this tournament (34) without becoming champions.

They came close to the title when they were favourites against Greece on home soil in 2004. Twelve years on, Portugal - under the guidance of a former Greece manager - created shockwaves of their own.

Match highlights

- In the 8th minute, Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo went down and stayed down following a challenge by Dimitri Payet. The forward clutched his left knee.

- Two minutes later, Pepe slipped and lost the ball on the flank. Payet chipped the ball into box and Antoine Griezmann's looping header was tipped over the bar by Rui Patricio. From the resulting corner, Olivier Giroud's header was comfortably held by Patricio.

- In the 17th minute, Ronaldo went down with no one around him. He limped to the sidelines to receive more medical treatment.

- In the 25th minute, Ronaldo was substituted, with Ricardo Quaresma replacing him. The Portugal captain was in tears as he was stretchered off.

- In the 33rd minute, Payet played a ball into space in the box. Moussa Sissoko nutmegged Adrien Silva and fired a shot towards the near post. Patricio saved.

- In the 59th minute, substitute Kingsley Coman linked up with Griezmann. The forward hit a low shot from a tight angle and Patricio saved.

- Seven minutes later, Pogba played an inch-perfect long pass to the feet of Coman on the left flank. The Bayern Munich man whipped a cross into the box but Griezmann headed wide from six yards out.

- In the 75th minute, Coman set up Giroud, who shot from an acute angle on the left. Patricio pushed his low drive away but no France player was there to attack the rebound.

- In the 80th minute, Nani's cross was clawed away by Hugo Lloris. The ball dropped for Quaresma, who executed a scissors kick from 15 yards. Lloris caught that effort.

- Four minutes later, Sissoko unleashed a piledriver from over 25 yards. Patricio pushed it away from danger.

- In stoppage time, Patrice Evra's low cross found substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac in the box. He took two touches on the spin, leaving Pepe on his backside, before scuffing a shot onto the post.

- In the 104th minute, Quaresma's corner was met by substitute Eder in the box. But the striker's header was saved by Lloris.

- In the 107th minute, Laurent Koscielny was wrongly booked after Eder handled the ball just outside the box. From the resulting free kick, Raphael Guerreiro hit the bar.

- In the 109th minute, Eder picked the ball up from about 40 yards out. Koscielny was marking him but he held him off, took a few strides infield and hit a powerful low strike into the bottom-left corner.

The talking point

Has Portugal justified the new European Championship format or given Uefa more reason to have a relook?

The governing body of European football's decision to expand the tournament to include 24 teams has had mixed reviews. Among the biggest criticisms are the devaluation of the continental showpiece and the encouragement of defensive football as teams need not win in the group stage to progress to the knockout stages.

Portugal were the only team that qualified for the last 16 without recording a victory in their opening three games. And they went all the way, becoming the first team to win the title after finishing third in the group stage.

Man of the Match

Pepe. He was immense at the back after missing the semi-final against Wales with injury. He anticipated danger, organised the backline and won just about every aerial duel.

What the result means

Portugal have won their first major tournament title. They have also sealed a place in next year's Fifa Confederations Cup. That tournament features each of the six winners of the confederation competitions, the hosts of the 2018 World Cup, and reigning world champions Germany.

France will begin their post-mortem after a hugely disappointing final. France manager Didier Deschamps has a contract that enables him to see Les Bleus through to the 2018 World Cup.

He will have little room for error during France's World Cup qualifying campaign. France are not even the top seeds of their group, which includes first seeds the Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg. Their next competitive game is against Bulgaria in October.

Key statistic

Portugal are the first team to defeat France at the Stade de France in a major tournament.

What they said

Pepe: "There was a lot of suffering, a very intense game. We fought very hard. We had to work very hard and be more humble than the other team, that's the only way to win. We left it all out there, it's the only way to win. "It was tough to lose (Ronaldo). He could make the difference but we were warriors on the pitch. We said we would win it for him and we managed to do that."  

Deschamps: "We had chances to score, and the last one fell to Gignac. It came down to tiny details, it was a close match. We had chances, as did the Portuguese, but unfortunately they scored. It’s a great disappointment for it to end now, with this final. We must not throw everything that we’ve done away, but we threw away a great chance to be European Champions - not the only one, but a great one."

Eder: "It was an amazing moment... Portugal had been wanting this title for so long. This is fantastic and well deserved."