Portugal emerged champions of Europe in the just concluded Euro 2016, after beating the host France in extra time 1-0 at the Stade de France stadium. The victory is historical, significant because it is Portugal’s first ever European championship and also their first ever major trophy.
It looked as if all hope was lost for Portugal, when their main man Cristiano Ronaldo was carried out on a stretcher while in tears in the 25th minutes of play due to harm-string injury. But nature probably had something else in stock for Portugal, who managed to curtail the attacking prowess of France for 90 minutes, ending the game at goalless draw and taking the match into extra time.
Portugal lost in the World Cup semi-finals in 2006, the quarter-finals at Euro 2008 and the semi-finals at Euro 2012, and it looked like another sad moment would befall them when Ronaldo lay on the turf distraught after two attempts to play on through the pain.
Despite Portugal missing out on Ronaldo on the field of play, it became obvious that Cristiano Ronaldo had more role to play from the dugout, where he practically took charge of coach Santos job dishing out tactical instructions to players from the touch line and encouraging his teammates to victory.
Antonio Eder’s goal in the 109th minutes ensured that Ronaldo’s side did not face any penalty shoot-out before victory came like he did in the uefa champions league which he won with Madrid in May, and also served as an opportunity for Portugal to wipe away her tears which they shed twelve years ago when they lost as host in the final of the Euro 2004 to Greece.
In the end, Cristiano Ronaldo finally had his hands on the trophy even if it was not the way the star envisaged. Portugal was not a team that was seen as possible winner from the group stage, after they practically struggled to qualify at the group stage, without even winning a single match but finishing third as best loser with three draws.
When British referee Mark Clattenburg blew the final whistle, the players of France were on their knees and broke into bitter tears, while Cristiano Ronaldo who was in tears in the 25th minutes of play broke into tears of joy which later ushered in a sunrise of a smile on Ronaldo’s face.