Men's Team

Portugal stun France to lift Euro 2016 crown

Portugal stun France to lift Euro 2016 crown
France's Euro 2016 dream is over.

France began brightly with Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann looking for an early opening but Portugal held firm.

Griezmann’s clever header from a Payet cross forced a fine save from Rui Patricio but the first major talking point came on 19 minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo - recipient of some forceful challenges by the French – lay on the ground clutching his knee.

He initially left the pitch in tears but returned with a heavily strapped left leg, but lasted just seven more minutes before being stretchered off.

So influential is the Real Madrid striker for Portugal that and already difficult task suddenly took on monumental proportions.

France, however, were lacking the spark and flair that has been the trademark of their drive towards the final and the first period was something of a bore.

The swarms of moths that plagued the stadium before and during the game were the only ones who seemed to be enjoying themselves.

With the weight of an expectant nation on their shoulders, France looked livelier after the break with Payet sacrificed for Kingsley Coman – a move that wasn’t universally popular among the Les Bleus fans, but Portugal still looked reasonably comfortable.

On 66 minutes the best chance yet fell to France as Coman’s cross found Griezmann in the box but the Atletico Madrid striker headed over with anything on target a certain goal.

Eight minutes later Olivier Giroud forced another good save from Patricio as the game headed towards the seemingly inevitable extra time.

Nani reminded the hosts that Portugal were more than capable of snatching a winner with a shot that almost caught Hugo Loris napping.

Then the impressive Moussa Sissoko let rip with a 25-yard pile-driver that again was well saved by Patricio.

As the game drifted into added time Andre-Pierre Gignac cleverly worked himself enough room to send a low shot that struck the foot of the post and just eluded the predatory Griezmann.

In the first half of extra time, there was little of note to report but the second period, at last, saw the deadlock broken.

After Raphael struck the bar with a free-kick for the Portuguese, it seemed France had survived, but moments later Eder wrestled free of two markers to rifle a low shot past Loris with 109 minutes played.

France tried to pick themselves up off the floor, but the goal had knocked the stuffing out of them and ultimately, they didn’t do enough on the night.

Bacary Sagna was his usual solid self but Eliaquim Mangala was again an unused sub.

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