In an extraordinarily gritty and heroic performance, the Seleção, deprived of their captain through injury, won their first ever major championship trophy in extra time at the Stade de France in St Denis. 

Cristiano Ronaldo's injury in the 8th minute left him in tears and the hopes of millions of Portuguese supporters in tatters. But the Seleção displayed the courage and bravery of true champions as they wrestled back control of the match from France and won in the 110th minute courtesy of a wonderful strike by Éder.

 

The tournament's marquee match-up was built up as one in which the proverbial David would surely be slain by Goliath. From all over the world, opinion merged into unprecedented unanimity as France were heralded as the champions-to-be. But Fernando Santos played off the criticism well in the pre-match press conference stating "I want it to continue. Tomorrow I want Portugal to win without deserving to!"

The pragmatic specialist made two changes to the side that beat Wales 2-0 in the semifinals on Wednesday with Danilo and Bruno Alves making way for William and Pepe, respectively.

Nevertheless, the match began following the template that most would have expected with France pressing high up the pitch and dictating the tempo. Portugal were clearly awed by the occasion and misplaced several straightforward passes gifting France opportunities to open the scoring. Unsurprisingly, it was Antoine Griezmann to fire the first warning shot, a looping header that Patricio did well to tip over the bar for a corner in the 10th minute. 

But that came moments after Cristiano Ronaldo was knocked off the ball by Dimitri Payet, a rough but fair challenge that left the Portugal captain clutching his left knee in pain. Minutes later, Ronaldo collapsed to the pitch in tears, the fate of a nation seemingly about to walk off the pitch with him. It was a crushing moment for Portugal's captain and the Seleção. Ricardo Quaresma came on in his stead in the 25th minute as Nani took the captain's armband. 

Moussa Sissoko, for all that has been said of his poor form for Newcastle during the 2015/16 club season, tried his utmost to torment Portugal, and he signaled his intent by driving hard at the Portuguese defensive line, his cross cut out at the last moment by Jose Fonte. 

Rui Patricio was called upon again to deny Sissoko from close range after he cut inside Adrien to make space in the 33rd minute. Having endured the worst of the French onslaught, Portugal strung a few passes together and created a decent shooting opportunity for Adrien after Nani cut inside his marker from the right. But the Sporting midfielder took too many touches before passing to Raphael, who mishit his effort wide of goal.

The halftime whistle brought a welcome respite as the emotional burden of losing Ronaldo and relentless pressure from France threatened to overwhelm Portugal. But Sissoko picked up where he had left off and forced a last ditch clearance from Pepe in the 52nd minute after another blistering run through midfield. 

France spurned the first of two glorious second half chances in the 66th minute when an unmarked Griezmann headed just over the bar from Kingsley Coman's cross. Portugal finally tested Hugo Lloris twice in quick succession when Nani's looping cross had to be pawed away. Ricardo Quaresma followed up with a bicycle kick that was straight at Lloris as Seleção fans held their breath thinking it might be the golden moment for Portugal's prodigal son.

Rui Patricio, who put in another legendary performance, once again denied Sissoko in the 84th minute as the midfielder found space to shoot from almost 30 yards. His brutal effort was parried away for another corner as France searched for the winning goal. 

The moment that could have been Portugal's undoing came in stoppage time via the unsung Andre Pierre-Gignac. The 30 yr old striker, who plays his club football for Tigres in Mexico, executed a brilliant spin that eluded Pepe's challenge and hit the inside of the upright with a shot from point blank range that bounced away to safety, an enormous let-off for Portugal.

The game headed to extra time and Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the pitch, encouraging the players as they prepared for 30 more minutes. But this was what Portugal were made ready for all throughout the tournament. And as extra time began, it was clear they were ready to suffer more to secure victory. 

Portugal began to threaten with better passing exchanges and off the ball movement. A Pepe header was just off target in the 104th minute even though it was eventually called offside. Éder was next to go close as his header was expertly blocked by Lloris. Then Raphael Guerreiro smashed the crossbar with a stunning free kick minutes later.

The tide had turned, and the historic moment finally came in the 109th minute. In a neat passing movement involving Moutinho, William, and Quaresma, the ball fell to Éder on the left wing 35 yards from goal. The Guinea-Bisseau born striker's lanky frame bowed under the challenge of Laurent Koscielny, but held firm as the French defender fell by the wayside. Staggering to regain his balance, Éder cut towards the center of the pitch, gathered his composure, and dispatched a punishing effort into the bottom left corner from nearly 30 yards. 

Bedlam descended upon the red and green portion of the stands and indeed all over the world as Portugal's diaspora felt that this must finally be their time. The goal shattered French resolve and it must be said that after going close so many times throughout the 90 minutes, France went out rather tamely in the end.

In a tournament that has seen so many records fall, so many extraordinary and historic moments, it was Portugal that crowned Euro 2016 with a brilliant and tenacious performance that earned their first ever major championship. As the Seleção and Portugal sang and danced in ecstasy, the French players left the pitch wondering what might have been, many so upset that they refused to wear their runners-up medals.

Over the course of the 90 minutes, France were unlucky not to find a winner. But this Portugal team were custom made champions by the hard-nosed and unflinching Fernando Santos. It was they who refused to buckle under pressure even as they were so unjustly deprived of the services of their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo. In the end, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Rui Patricio, William, Éder, and the Portuguese will to survive broke the will of France's talented players. Defense wins championships, and as a result tears of joy will run all over the world as Portugal brings home the trophy it so richly deserves. 

Obrigado, Seleção. Força Portugal Sempre. Está na hora!

by Nathan Motz

 

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  • Rolf Gerber
    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Agreed Rolf,

    Fernando Santos deserves all the praise he is receiving.

    He set this team up to win, not to fail (as some previous coaches did). He was proactive with his lineup changes. Vieirinha was poor so Cedric came in and locked that position down. Moutinho wasnt able to go all match, he brought in the gritty and robust Adrien who locked the position down. He threw and 18 year old kid at the Euro's and he scored a massive goal vs Poland.

    Bruno Alves came in and played a solid game, Eliseu was cautious but solid when called upon and then Eder!!!! He is the first coach to make the right decisions. Regardless of the outcome he made the right choices.

    Every player that came on came on like a superstar when normally the subs come on meekly and don't do much.

    I havent seen Nani play like this since his early years with Man United. The way Eder came into that final was immense, he was a man possessed. Reminds me alot of David Trezeguet for the older fans on here. The team really bought into and pushed his philosophy from the bottom right to the top with Ronaldo leading the charge.

    Incredible what he accomplished when other Portuguese coaches with vastly superior squads didnt.

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Agreed,

    When Eder came on, and Renato went off the commentators here were shocked, but I was happy as I knew that France would not be expecting this and it would make it hard for them to plan against.

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Guest - Voice of Reason

    Tom, Nathan and all of the writers that contribute to this great side - Obrigado.

    Tom, you created a great site, recruited great writers to feed our hunger for objective and well written news on our team. You have done it with my professionalism than most English language futebol sites and you are absolutely to be commended for it.

    It has been a long, long, LONG time gentlemen - we have been through a lot of matches, a lot of reflection, a lot of comments. Yesterday's game was the ultimate - this tournament has given us the highest of highs, while threatening to take us to the lowest of lows.

    I can't express how happy I am for the players, the manager, the country, and all of Portugal sons, daughters and supporters the world over - like Ronaldo said, the title is for all of us, we were all part of the win and we should enjoy it.

    On to my "friend" - I haven't been under a rock, I check the site regularly and read every word that is written on this site. Again, this handle was created in times of the Portugal fans losing their minds at the slightest bit of adversity. However, the bar has been raised significantly (in terms of the commenters) in recent years, so I haven't had to interject with some sanity to calm people down.

    But there is lies the difference that you still don't get after all these years - this site is split by fans and supporters.

    The fans are all over this site with criticisms when they lose. They assign blame, they call for resignations and they start determining who should never represent the country again. You are hurt and devastated when Portugal lose.

    Supporters, in bad times, stay steady, we analyse what happened and hope that those who know much more than use right the ship. We don't lash out and criticize, but rather, we feel their pain/disappointment. We appreciate the courage of anyone who puts on that jersey - because more often than not, they will not reach the pinnacle and will undoubtedly suffer the wrath and rage of angry fans who are hurt and spend their time criticizing them. I believe every single player that puts on a jersey puts everything into winning - I don't hold it against them if they don't.

    There you have it. Tom/Nathan et al - a very big thank you, from a very loyal reader, booster and supporter.

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  • Guest - Jimmy Tarigan

    Long time lurker, but in this opportunity I would like to say congratulation Portugal for the EURO 2016 Champions and making a history. I am from Indonesia and have been growing up watching Portugal since WC Junior 1988 and 1991 that produces my idol Rui Costa and rest of the golden generation that influenced me on appreciating the perspective Beautiful and Dynamic football.

    Let others said about negative them be, I feel the same and shared the passion during good and bad times of Portugal specially EURO 2004 that eventually won by The Greece. Time flies, but my faith has had never put a single doubt that one day Portugal team eventually will prevail up to this dates.

    The lessons learnt has been encapsulated that this generation inherited. The institutional memory from previous era has been transformed to blessing gifted technicalities with combine strategic gameplan and exceptional figure like fatherhood and mister humble Santos, the leadership of Ronaldo, and cohesive team unit for throughout the competition. Incredible epic, timely tested, each player revelation, exhausted and yet loyal Portuguese supporter that endures fruitful. God’s smiles on Portugal. It is one of my happiest day in my life too.

    And also amazing Tom Kundert, Nathan, and people involved dedication for having spent time that I have enjoyed reading a lot of constructive articles and oftenly back and forth in this website for my Benfica, Sporting, Porto and Portugal news. Obrigado.

    Once again, congratz and well done Portugal National Team and Portuguese people. I shared my joy and my heart. Have a great party. Cheers.....

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  • Guest - Qaiser

    [b]i m so so happy for wining euro 2016:):)
    team portugal euro 2016 final win great teme portugal best of luck forever

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  • Guest - Filipe (Dublin)

    I don't like that every Portugal game and now title win is reported through the perpective of Ronaldo and what he did. To have to defend a guy who has won what he won is ridiculous. But I think a lot of journalist miss the point. Yes, it was upsetting to see him carried off so early in the game but when he went off everyone could see the team Portugal has. Every single member of that squad deserves their medal.

    And the fact the team was able to cope without Ronaldo is down to himself as the captain and reigning World Player of the Year accepting the role given to him by Santos and of course because Santos could convince him it was best for the team.

    Ronaldo was heroic in qualifiers, vs Hungary, involved in goal v Croatia, stood up v Poland in the penos, goal and assists v Wales and because of the position he took in the team over the last couple years Portugal could function when he went off injured on the final.

    Ronaldo deserves that trophy 100% and for people to try discredit him is a disgrace. Amazing captain, amazing coach, amazing team.

    Campeões de Europa!!!! Força Portugal!!!

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  • Guest - John / Australia

    It's been an amazing 48 hours...with the parties all over the world where there are Portuguese inhabitants....its Fantastic. My Dad who is now in his 80's and now unfortunately suffering Dementia waited many years for Portugal to win a major trophy....and the many stories he used share with me about the great Eusebio, Coluna, simoes, Vincent,etc and the 1966 World Cup. He would be so proud today and chuffed on what a small nation of Portugal has achieved. I used to love seeing him standing up military style every time the Portuguese national anthem would belt out...and he would cry and his face would light up with pride.
    I am so proud of my brothers and sisters of my Parents homeland and my love for the country and the national team. History has been written, long live the players, coaches and staff who made this happen.

    To all the detractors and journalists, commentators out there in various networks and newspapers - Portugal played with strategy, were unified, were resolute and above all never stopped believing.

    We may not have played a pretty style.......tell that to Greece 2004, Italy 2006.....they got the job done and know one raises those victories. So please think about it.....Portugal played the same style throughout...did anyone ever think that our style would change....it worked and we won...it was a marvellous victory............FORCA PORTUGALLO...............and a BIG BIRD to all you haters and critics.....this is ours and we played to win and we deserved it!!!!

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  • Guest - John V.

    What a great moment....I've been watching these guys my entire life waiting for a moment like this...I've been with them through the ups and downs, I was even in the stands when they lost to Greece but my support never wavered, people constantly criticized them whether they won or lost, played attractive or defensively, but they always managed to bring some great moments I'll never forget, and this one tops them all. I shed a tear when Eder scored that majestic goal because I finally felt it was our time, and no one can take that from us...I'll remember where I was and never forget this moment, FORCA Seleção and VIVA PORTUGAL!!

    from Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Been meaning to reply to many of these messages individually but not had time. Thanks for all the kind words about the PortuGOAL coverage. I know I speak for the rest of the team when I say it was a privilege to report on Portugal at Euro 2016. Let me rephrase that. It was an honour to report on OS CAMPEÕES DA EUROPA. Still feels so good so say that!

    Thanks also for all the brilliant posts. They add so much to this site.

    Today Europe. In two years' time the world!!!

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  • Guest - Danny Janicas

    This is my first time commenting on this website, and what else can I say? I am proud to be Portuguese. The future is going to be great, with all you the youth prodigies, coming up through the ranks. Anyways, here is my inside scoop on our Euro 2016 tournament: Credit to the French National Team, who really took it to us today and clearly dominated the game. With a little bit of luck on their side, they might have grabbed the win from us. ANYWAYS, I am so proud in what this team has accomplished throughout the tournament. We did not start off the campaign very well throughout the group stage. We tied all our games, and scrapped are way through. I thought we deserved to win at least the first two games, due to the fact we clearly dominated our opponents, but luck wasn't on our side. We luckily got the easier side of the bracket and didn't have to run into any of the power house such as the French and the Germans. It was a very tight match against a very talented Croatian team, but we capitalized of the late chance that was given to us, in extra time. We then met with a very physical Polish team, who could punish you from anywhere on the pitch. The game was back and forth, and eventually went to penalties. We clinically scored all of our 5 penalties, which brought us to the semi-finals. It was the dream semi-finals that all football fans wanted to see. Wales vs Portugal, or in others eyes, Bale vs Ronaldo. This game, was the first and only game we won in 90 minutes, and I thought we were the much better side, throughout the course of the game. We found our way then in the finals. NO one expected us to reach the finals. We had the biggest match to prepare for, as we had to take on the hosts (France). The French national team displayed so much talent, that we had to be on our "A" game in order to be crown champions of Europe. Our captain, talisman, and greatest player ever in the federation went down in the 20 minute. It was a huge blow for us, and a lot of us supporters thought, maybe we weren't suppose to win it after all. After a boring first two half's, and a boring first half of extra time, we finally found a goal in the game. Thankfully, it was Portugal, and arguably our worst ever player to be part of the squad (Eder). No offence to Eder who has let us down time and time again during qualifying, and even chances he's been given like the 2014 world cup group stages for instance. However, today it was all different. He was shielding the ball very well to create space for his teammates, and openings on the wings to. Eder was finally gifted with his tremendous display, when he striked the ball beautifully, from about 20 yards out. I was so happy, that he was able to do that for us, and we were able to win the European Championship off that goal to. Congrats Eder. I finally want to say. Despite the short comings we have endured during previous tournaments, and coming up short of our goal, today we have been blessed and gifted for the hard work that has been put into this tournament, by the team. Cristiano, you did a fabulous job as a captain, and you truly deserve this trophy, for all you have done for us. Keep making us proud Captain! To the rest of the squad, well done! Especially are young players like renato, william, cedric, raphael, gomes, mario etc.. all played their first tournament for the nation, and they helped us to glory. IM PROUD TO BE PORTUGESE! FORCA PORTUGAL!!

    from Toronto, ON, Canada
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QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Singing the national anthem at the end was so beautiful - it was brutal. This communion is brutal. We will try to give more joy to the Portuguese people because they deserve it."

Fernando Santos
(Portugal coach in post-match press conference after win Switzerland)

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