Portugal stun hosts France, win Euro 2016

Portugal stun hosts France, win Euro 2016

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Saint-Denis (AP/UNB) — Portugal’s players crowded around Cristiano Ronaldo as he sat on the turf, but their tearful captain couldn’t withstand the pain of his injury any longer.
The Portuguese had to win their first major trophy the hard way on Sunday, stunning France 1-0 after extra time in the European Championship final – having played without Ronaldo from the 25th minute.
Two hours after being carried off on a stretcher, the three-time world player of the year returned a champion for the first time with his country.“I had bad luck because I had a small injury in the beginning of the game, but my colleagues did their part — they run, they fight,” said Ronaldo, who has already won every major club honor. “Nobody believed in Portugal but we won”.
An unlikely scorer secured the pre-tournament outsiders a title at last.
It could be an uncomfortable few months ahead for Eder, the unheralded striker who will return shortly to French club Lille after breaking French hearts with his 109th-minute goal.
“The ugly duckling became beautiful,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.
A second-half substitute, Eder scored only his fourth goal in 29 appearances for Portugal with a low shot from 25 meters (yards) past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
“Cristiano told me I would be scoring the winning goal,” Eder said. “He gave me strength and positive energy.”
In doing so, Portugal denied the French a third final victory on home soil to add to Euro ’84 and the 1998 World Cup.
“Football can be very cruel,” said Lloris, France’s captain. “The overriding emotion is a lot of sadness.”
Twelve years after losing to Greece on home soil in their last appearance in the final, it was Portugal’s turn to spoil the host nation’s party. And they achieved it after winning only one of their seven games at Euro 2016 inside 90 minutes, and after losing the inspirational Ronaldo midway through the first half.
“It was tough because we lost our main man and we had all our hopes pinned on him because he’s a player who can score a goal at any minute,” Portugal defender Pepe said. “When he said he couldn’t go on, I tried to tell my teammates that we have to win it for him. That we were going to fight for him.”
It was a mostly dull and stodgy final but the record books will only show that Portugal went from third-place in its group to champion, and with little help from Ronaldo in its last match.

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