Portugal won their maiden international title in the European Championship final against France late on Sunday night. The lone goal of the match was scored by substitute Eder in the 110th minute as Portugal defeated France 1-0.
The Portuguese team will now head home to a momentous national welcome. A tickertape parade through Lisbon is waiting to happen.
The shocker shot from Eder made the Portuguese side jump in joy.
“It was not the final I wanted but I am very happy. It is a trophy for all Portuguese, for all immigrants, all the people who believed in us so I am very happy and very proud,” said Portugal’s star player Cristiano Ronaldo who was stretchered off in tears in the first half of the game.
Ronaldo got injured in the match as early as the eighth minute. After twice going off for treatment and trying to come back, Ronaldo was finally carried off for good.
Portugal defended doggedly and threatened occasionally without their inspirational skipper. With 109 minutes gone, Eder beat off a Laurent Koscielny challenge to fire a shot from outside the penalty area that French captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris could not even get a hand to.
Hosts France had dominated the game throughout. But they could not break down a Portuguese defence in which man-of-the-match Pepe was majestic and goalkeeper Rui Patricio produced a string of dramatic saves.
Portugal was up against the host French team whom the entire nation was backing. France’s defeat on home turf brought back memories of a shock Portugal suffered twelve years ago. In the 2004 Euro final, Portugal lost to Greece 1-0 on home territory.
Portugal’s coach Fernando Santos and the other players paid tribute to Ronaldo’s role in urging the team not to give up in the tense match at the Stade de France.
After going off for treatment, injured Ronaldo returned at the end of 90 minutes to give pep talks to his teammates.
“He told me I was going to score the winning goal,” said Eder who plays for French side Lille and only went on in the 79th minute…He gave me strength and positive energy,” said Eder.
“Cristiano is fundamental to us,” said Santos. “It would be utopian to not use Ronaldo and all his added value…Cristiano could score at any moment and sort everything out on his own but I always said we are a team — we win as a team.”
The Portuguese skipper limped and cried with joy after his side delivered the final knockout.
(With inputs from PTI)