Eder the hero
A final that appeared to be heading for penalties suddenly swung Portugal’s way thanks to Eder’s tremendous strike in the 109th minute at the Stade de France. The bustling centre-forward had come on in the 79th minute for Renato Sanches and his power and strength was too much for France centre-back Laurent Koscielny to handle. One could hardly have chosen a more dramatic match-winner. After enduring a torrid time at Swansea City, Eder owed winning his place in Fernando Santos’ Portugal squad at the finals to his form on loan at Ligue 1 club Lille in the second half of last season. And in May he signed a four-year deal at the same club. What kind of reception will he get on the pitches of France next season?
More tears, of pain and joy, for Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo was just 19 when he cried tears of despair as Portugal lost the Euro 2004 final on home soil. He had stated his wish to be crying with joy this time and the Real Madrid forward was finally able to celebrate winning a major international trophy for the first time. From a personal viewpoint this was not his night. After hurting his left knee in an eighth-minute challenge with Dimitri Payet, Ronaldo tried to carry on but eventually gave up midway through the first half. The three-time World Player of the Year slumped to the turf and was inconsolable as he had to be stretchered off to be replaced by Ricardo Quaresma. The substitution of the biggest star on the field took the sting out of the game. It was also eerily similar to the 1998 World Cup final at the same ground, when Brazil were undermined by the original Ronaldo’s fitness problems as they lost 3-0 to France. He did not reappear until the end of the 90 minutes but he was there willing his colleagues on from the dugout and has now picked up a Champions League winners’ medal and won the European Championship in less than two months. Could a fourth World Player of the Year award be next?
France luck as hosts runs out
The last team to win a major international trophy as hosts was France, at the 1998 World Cup, when current coach Didier Deschamps was the captain. In 1984 they won the European Championship as hosts and they were overwhelming favourites to repeat the feat on Sunday. After all France had not lost any of their previous 18 games at home in major competitions, winning 16 and drawing two. They had also won their last 10 matches against Portugal. The Selecao meanwhile, had been the last side to lose a major tournament final as hosts when they lost to Greece at Euro 2004. This was their moment at last.
Surging Sissoko stands out in defeat
Moussa Sissoko was outstanding for Didier Deschamps’ beaten side. The 26-year-old’s marauding runs from midfield were a constant source of danger to the Portuguese and he almost conjured a brilliant winner with a late thunderbolt from 30 yards that was superbly kept out by Rui Patricio. Sissoko was not in Deschamps’ first-choice line-up at the start of the competition but impressed in a 0-0 draw against Switzerland in the final group game. After being benched against the Republic of Ireland in the last 16 he returned and impressed against Iceland in the quarter-finals and has kept his place ever since. Sunday’s final was a special occasion for the Newcastle United player of Malian origin. He was born in Paris and started out with a club in Aulnay-sous-Bois, just 10 kilometres (six miles) away from the Stade de France before turning professional with Toulouse in Ligue 1. He will surely earn a move away from Newcastle rather than be turning out in England’s second tier next season.
Rui Patricio keeps Portugal in it
Portugal would never have won their first European title without the heroics of goalkeeper Rui Patricio. He leaped to claw away Antoine Griezmann’s first-half header into the top-right corner and in the 86th minute he stopped Moussa Sissoko’s powerful drive. In another impressive stop, the Sporting Lisbon ‘keeper denied Olivier Giroud, parrying his shot from Kingsley Coman’s pass.