Portugal Euro 2016 celebration: Thousands of fans welcome winning team back home
The victorious Portuguese team landed in Lisbon today and continued their celebrations after winning the UEFA European Championship 2016. Portugal were not considered favourites to even reach the finals of the tournament, let alone win it. Fernando Santos’ men went on to prove the critics wrong by beating favourites – the hosts France.
Portugal started off the Euros with a goalless draw against the tiny Icelanders followed by another goalless draw against Austria. In their last game of the group stages, they drew 3-3 against group toppers Hungary and made it to the round of 16 as one of the best ranked third placed teams. To their luck, Hungary faced Belgium and Iceland who finished second faced England while Portugal drew Croatia. They were also on the relatively easier side of the draw and faced Poland and Wales in the quarterfinals and semi-finals respectively. Portugal made complete use of their luck by beating each of their opponents and winning the tournament.
Portugal’s lone goal in the finals came from a rather unlikely source in Eder. The striker who was once rejected by Welsh club Swansea City blasted the ball into the bottom left corner of Lloris’ goal to put his team ahead. Real Madrid centre-back Pepe was adjudged the man of the match for his crucial defensive performance and Captain Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the Silver boot which he then gifted to Nani.
Portugal started off the final game of the tournament on a bitter note after talisman Cristiano Ronaldo picked up an injury. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner collided with West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and was forced to make way for Ricardo Quaresma in the 25th minute. Despite losing their captain, Portugal upset the hosts of the tournament. Pepe, Rui Patricio, Raphael Guerrero and Cristiano Ronaldo made it to the team of the tournament which was the highest representation from a single team.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream of a trophy with the national team was fulfilled after the captain inspired his teammates from the side-lines. A visibly overwhelmed Ronaldo could not control his tears at the stroke of the final whistle. He was then rightfully given the captain’s armband to go on and lift the trophy in front of the crowd in the Stade de France. The victory summed up a glorious summer for Cristiano which started off with the winning penalty in the Champions League finals.