Portugal Win Euro 2016 Despite Ronaldo’s Knee Injury

Portugal recovered from the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to a knee injury to beat France 1-0 in extra time and win the European Championship.

Ronaldo lasted only 25 minutes and although France dominated for most of the game they could not find a goal, and the sucker punch came in the 109th minute through Eder’s fine long-range strike.

The first chance of the game fell to Portugal, as Nani raced onto a long ball over the top from Cedric in the fifth minute. The winger took the shot on early from just inside the area but fired over the bar.

Moussa Sissoko then had a wild effort at the other end, blazing high over the crossbar, before Antoine Griezmann slashed at an effort from the angle that went well wide.

Portugal had cause for concern when Ronaldo and Dimitri Payet collided on the halfway line in the ninth minute. The Real Madrid forward went down in pain after an apparent clash of knees in a robust challenge and needed treatment, but seemed to be able to continue.

Griezmann had another chance moments later as he tried to loop a header past Rui Patricio from a Payet delivery, but the goalkeeper got across to tip over the bar. Olivier Giroud then had a header from the resulting corner, but nodded weakly at Patricio from a good position.

Ronaldo had continued to look in discomfort after suffering the knock to his knee, and he sank to the ground again in tears in the 17th minute. He left the pitch for more treatment as the medical staff made one last attempt to patch him up. He was off the field for three minutes before jogging back into the action to jeers from the home crowd.

The football took centre stage again as Sissoko had another shot deflected over after a bursting run through the midfield. Adrien Silva then had a snap shot which flew off to the right.

But Ronaldo’s game was finally over in the 25th minute when he again slumped to the ground and the captain’s armband was passed to Nani. On came the stretcher and he was replaced by Ricardo Quaresma, with the Stade de France crowd all standing to applaud him off.

The departure of Ronaldo seemed to have an effect on both sets of players as France lost some of their flow, before Sissoko tested Patricio with a powerful effort that the keeper was equal to.

Portugal showed some rare attacking intent in the 37th minute as Raphael Guerreiro saw a shot deflected well wide. Fonte had a good headed chance from the corner but planted his effort too high and the rest of the half passed without incident.

The second half was eight minutes old before the first shot, Paul Pogba blasting well over from distance, before Cedric showed good recovery in a race with Griezmann as the tournament’s top scorer could only hit a shot low into the gloves of Patricio.

Coach Didier Deschamps brought on Kingsley Coman for Payet just before the hour in a bid to kickstart his team into life as the second half continued to meander.

France created the best chance yet in the 66th minute, as Griezmann missed a gilt-edged opportunity. Coman crossed from the left and found the Atletico Madrid man unmarked dix yards out, but he could only head over.

Portugal then made their second change as Joao Moutinho replaced Sliva.

Coman then failed to keep an effort on target as France continued to do all the pressing. The Bayern Munich forward then slipped Giroud in on goal, whose shot was kept out by Patricio. It was a decent chance for the Arsenal forward but he couldn’t find the corner.

With 12 minutes left and extra time looming, both sides made another change. The ineffective Giroud came off for Andre-Pierre Gignac, while Portugal made their final substitution as Renato Sanches was replaced by Eder.

Portugal finally sprang to life as Nani’s cross from the right drifted towards goal and Hugo Lloris had to claw it away from under his bar. The loose ball fell to Quaresma but his overhead kick was straight into the grateful gloves of the France goalkeeper. It was the first work Lloris had to do all evening.

Nani then had a shot over the bar from 25 yards, before Sissoko brought the best out of the Portugal goalkeeper. The Newcastle United midfielder made another strong run from midfield and unleashed a powerful drive from distance, but Patricio got across to his right well and palmed the ball away.

Just when extra time appeared a certainty, Gignac came within a whisker of a dramatic, injury-time winner. He turned Pepe inside out, leaving the Real Madrid defender on the deck, but hit the post from six yards out. The Tigres forward scuffed his shot with the goal at his mercy, and may well have scored with a clean connection.

French hearts were in mouths five minutes into the additional 30 as Pepe headed a yard wide from a free kick, but it would not have counted as the flag went up for offside.

Portugal had only the one chance of the first period, and it came from a corner. Quaresma produced the dangerous delivery from the right and Eder rose highest to head goalwards from six yards out, but it was straight at Lloris and the goalkeeper was able to repel it.

Raphael Guerreiro almost stole a controversial opening goal in the 107th minute as his superb free kick crashed back off the underside of the bar. Referee Mark Clattenburg had booked Laurent Koscielny for handball but it was a case of mistaken identity as the ball actually struck the arm of Portuguese sub Eder.

And Eder was back in the action two minutes later as he finally broke the deadlock. The Lille forward showed great composure outside the area after picking up a pass by Moutinho, cutting inside onto his right foot and finding the bottom left corner from over 20 yards out. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris dived full stretch but could get nowhere near Eder’s fine strike.

The goal seemed to give Portugal a new lease of life, while France were unable to summon the energy to find a way back into the game.

Eder’s goal proved to be the winner as Portugal claimed their first major title.