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Published: 20:40 | 10/7/16

Portugal shock France to win Euro 2016

Ronaldo's injury tears turn to final joy

Eder scored an 109th minute extra-time winner, as Portugal beat France 1-0 in the Euro 2016 final at the Stade de France to secure their first major tournament trophy.

The Lille striker, who failed to score in 15 games for Swansea City last year, rolled Laurent Koscielny before drilling a low shot from outside the area past a flat-footed Hugo Lloris to carve his place in Portuguese football history.

And they did so without their captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who was carried off midway through the first half with a knee injury following a reducer tackle from Dimitri Payet.

The Real Madrid star left the pitch in tears to an ovation from the entire stadium and a sympathetic pat from France manager Didier Deschamps.

But those tears turned to joy after Eder's winner, with Ronaldo living every tackle and every pass on the sidelines before the final whistle, and that final release from the heartache he suffered as a teenager when his country lost the Euro 2004 final to Greece on home soil.

Portugal forged their unlikely path to the final in Saint-Denis on the back of a solid defence as much as Ronaldo's genius, and Pepe and Southampton's Jose Fonte were again immense as Fernando Santos' side quickly adapted to the loss of their talisman.

Behind them, Rui Patricio was once again an unflustered presence in the Portugal goal, making a fine early tipover save to keep out an Antoine Griezmann header and impressing with his handling and decision-making all match.

They were helped that France's poster boys Griezmann, playing his 70th match of a seemingly endless season, and Paul Pogba, out of position in the N'Golo Kante role, were largely anonymous.

Much of the hosts' early promise came from Moussa Sissoko, who seemed to be channelling the spirit of peak-era Yaya Toure with his direct runs at the heart of the Portugal defence.

The Newcastle midfielder was unlucky not to open the scoring on 34 minutes, following a feint and turn on the edge of the box from Payet's pass that left Adrien Silva flat on his backside, but his shot was straight at the ever-alert Patricio.

Deschamps brought on Kingsley Coman for Payet just before the hour mark and the 20-year-old soon unlocked the Portugal defence with a delicious cross from the left that Griezmann somehow managed to head over from six yards.

Portugal looked sharp on the break, with Nani almost catching out Lloris from the right channel before the France captain recovered to keep out Joao Mario's overhead follow-up effort.

But France could have nicked it deep into injury-time, as substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac turned Pepe first one way then the other in the area but then scuffed his shot against the post.

But the hosts failed to build on their late momentum, and Portugal kept making chances in the extra 30 minutes, with Raphael Guerreiro rapping the crossbar with a free-kick just moments before Eder's winner silenced the Stade de France.

And so a team that finished third in their group, won just one of their seven matches in 90 minutes, and were ahead for just 73 minutes of their 720 minutes in the tournament will return to Lisbon on Monday with the Henri Delaunay trophy in their carry-on luggage, leaving their bereft hosts with nothing but regrets and what-ifs.

By Nick Royle

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