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Portugal beat France to claim Euro 2016
Portugal won Euro 2016 on Sunday night beating the hosts France 1-0 at the Stade de France. Eder scored the winner 11 minutes from the end of extra-time.
It’s Portugal’s first major trophy and the victory was all the more remarkable as they lost their skipper and record goal scorer Cristiano Ronaldo to injury mid-way through the first-half
The 31-year-old injured his knee and though he tried to play on, he was forced off and replaced by Ricardo Queresma.
Portugal’s reshuffle left them slightly destabilised but it appeared to unhinge France whose status as favourites escalated with the withdrawal of the Real Madrid striker.
France coach Didier Deschamps said his team had wasted a big chance. "The disappointment is there and it's immense," he told French television channel M6. "We've let a big chance to be champions pass us by."
France were hoping to win a record-equalling third European Championship, after previous successes in 1984 and 2000. Deschamps, who skippered France to the 1998 World Cup and the Euro 2000 titles, was bidding to emulate Germany's Berti Vogts by winning a European Championship as a player and coach.
"There are no words to describe this feeling," he added. "You need time to digest it. We suffered together, we won together, and in the end we lose together. It's difficult, but it's like that. It would have been magnificent to offer our fans this trophy, at home. But it's not the case in the end."
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said before the final that he did not mind how his team won and they were pragmatism incarnate during the final. Santos's men were hard working and prosaic before and after Eder’s long range strike. The 61-year-old coach conceded Portugal were the "ugly duckling" side.
"Would I like us to be pretty? Yes," he said. "But in between being pretty and being at home, or ugly and being here, I prefer to be ugly."
After Denmark beat Germany in the 1992 final and Greece beat Portugal in Lisbon in 2004, the Portuguese pulled off a shock on Sunday night before a partisan stadium.
There was a symmetry about the victory. France beat Germany for the first time in a tournament to reach the final where they lost to Portugal for the first time in a competitive match.
"I have always seen Portugal as a team,” said Santos. “I think the quarter-final match against Croatia was of strategic importance. It does not matter to us whether it is spectacular or not. Sometimes you play in an unspectacular way and you win. Other times you play very spectacularly and you lose."
To the frustration of millions of France supporters and the joy of millions of Portuguese, Santos's men were unspectacular and triumphant.