Euro 2016 Final: Portugal 1-0 France - 5 talking points
Despite losing skipper Cristiano Ronaldo midway through the first half due to a knee injury, Portugal hung on and stayed in the game owing to some fantastic saves by Rui Patricio. They were rewarded for their persistence against a fatigued France in the 108th minute, when substitute striker Eder swung his right boot from 25 yards out to beat the outreach of Hugo Lloris’ gloves. France rallied late on, but could not break their duck.
Here are the 5 talking points from a memorable, if not a classic game of football:
1) Cristiano Ronaldo’s withdrawal galvanises Portugal
In a major talking point, Portugal were dealt a massive blow when their icon Cristiano Ronaldo came out worst in a clash of knees with Dimitri Payet. Despite his repeated attempts to carry on, the Portuguese skipper’s injury had aggravated enough to force him to withdraw from the field.
The absence of Ronaldo, however, seemed to galvanise Portugal. They played better as a team, defended resolutely and took advantage of a tiring France to switch gears in extra-time.
Rui Patricio, in particular, was excellent in between the sticks, making a number of instinctive saves to prevent France from getting that breakthrough. Ronaldo was constantly seen dishing out instructions from the dugout, conveying his presence on the field through the players. It was a performance which suggested that the players wanted to win the cup for their captain, a footballing legend, whose long-standing dream of winning a major trophy with his country finally became reality.