Weeping turned to cheering which later sparked more tears of joy and glory. Cristiano Ronaldo had to leave the turf after sustaining an injury, but his teammates notched up Portugal’s maiden Euro Cup title on Sunday night.
Beating France at Stade De France is an uphill task. Even the then reigning World Champions Brazil succumbed to the jaws of a humiliating 0-3 defeat in the finals of the 1998 World Cup here. Didier Deschamps, the skipper of the World Cup winning French team was out there in the bench as France coach. And as an injured Ronaldo left the turf in agony early in the first half following a collision, many thought it’s over for Portugal.
But team Portugal, led by Pepe displayed the finesse and zeal of youngsters in the absence of star-power. Substitute striker Éder netted the only goal of the 120 minutes.
Portugal makes history, Ronaldo witnesses from sidelines
No team had played more games in the Euro finals without clinching it than Portugal until Sunday.
Young striker Éder seldom scores. On Sunday night, he scored the goal of his life. One of the goals of Portugal’s history. The goal which Ronaldo had longed to score since his first appearance in the Euro finals on home-turf in 2004. Luis Figo’s Portugal was defeated 1-0 by dark-horse Greece in Lisbon in that game leaving a teenager Ronaldo in tears. Éder’s stunning strike converted Ronaldo’s tears of agony to tears of joy. Portugal emerged as the tenth champion in the history of the Euro Cup.
Éder entered the folklore cutting in from after receiving a pass from the left flank, and then unleashed 25 yard right footed grounder at the corner of the net. A little more than ten minutes separated Portugal from glory in the second session of extra time. Get a glimpse of the super-strike in this video.
The goal sparked Ronaldo to become pro-active on the sidelines. For the next few minutes until the long whistle, he appeared to be the agent of the wily Portuguese manager Fernando Santos.
France unleashed forays of attacks in search of the winner, but never looked dominating on the pitch. The two-time winners created a number of opportunities, but an adamant Portuguese defense and custodian Rui Patrício kept them at bay. Les Blues hit the woodwork in the last minute of the regulation time.
Watch the highlights of the match here.
Portugal lost to France in the last ten meetings, a stretch that dates back to 1978. This includes defeats in 2006 World Cup semifinals, 2000 Euro semifinals and 1984 Euro semifinals, as reported by the Guardian. The revenge finally came at the right place and right moment, and couldn’t have tasted more sweeter.
Photo Courtesy: ESPN/twitter.com