Things Just Get B-Éder and B-Éder for Portugal (Euro 16 Diaries Vol. 14)

Last night, Portugal stunned world football as they beat France 1-0 to win Euro 2016, after Éder scored a long-range winner in the second half of extra time.


France were clear favourites to overwhelm Portugal, who had had a relatively unspectacular tournament before the final. Griezmann, Pogba, Payet, Matuidi, Giroud, Lloris, Koscielny and co. were going to take on, well, Ronaldo. Or so we thought.

The sense that the game was France’s was expounded as Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off with a bad knee injury, and he left the field crying on a stretcher. He wasn’t the only one with no hope left – most of the Portuguese were doubting their chances even more now. But the players proved everyone wrong. They defended stubbornly, they were well-drilled and organised. France had their fair share of chances, but they failed to put them away – Lucas Digne scuffed a shot onto the post in the last minute of normal time – and in frustrating France for the first 90 minutes Portugal showed that they are a team, not ‘Ronaldo and the other 10’.

In extra time, Portugal were more daring, hitting the bar from a free kick, and just as it seemed that the game was headed for penalties, Éder, who had not scored in 14 games for Swansea – not even had a shot on target – drove a low shot past Lloris to send Portugal into raptures.

That 109th minute goal was enough to win the game for Portugal, and Cristiano Ronaldo was so emotional as he lifted the trophy that even I, one of his biggest sceptics, had to feel happy for him. He finally achieved something that Lionel Messi hasn’t – win something on the international stage – and that has written his name in the football history books.


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