Twelve years after losing in their last appearance in a major final, Portugal have finally got their hands on a trophy. And they did it it without Cristiano Ronaldo who was stretchered off due to injury after 25 minutes.
Portugal owes her win to the unlikeliest of heroes. A stunning extra-time winner from Eder (who by the way, failed to score in 15 appearances for Swansea City last season) gave an unpredictable tournament a finish nobody could have expected and sent the Stade de France, which had been preparing for a night of celebration, into a state of utter disbelief.
Eder's 109th-minute goal was brilliantly taken. He had impressed since replacing Renato Sanches in the second half but had few options when he received the ball out on the left, closely marked by Laurent Koscielny. Eder marauded infield and then, from 25 yards, cracked a powerful, accurate shot to Hugo Lloris' right. It was a bolt from the blue, and one that deserved to win any final.
aksu360 observed that in the first 45minutes, everything seemed rosy and optimistic, the French had started at a ferocious tempo. A swarm of moths had curiously descended upon the stadium prior to the game, and the hosts set about Portugal in similar fashion. France came close to an early goal when Antoine Griezmann's looped header from a fine Dimitri Payet pass was denied by an acrobatic tip-over from Rui Patricio.
When Raphael Guerreiro's free kick hit the bar early in the second period of a generally flat extra-time period, aksu360 observed that penalties was increasingly becoming inevitable. Then came Eder's incredible intervention and, against all odds, Portugal's finest hour had come.
Earlier, the mood of an evening turned rather sour for some fans. Ronaldo left the pitch injured just 25 minutes in, receiving an ovation from the entire stadium, but it was nothing like the one he had hoped for. Portugal's captain departed on a stretcher, visibly devastated, tears streaming down his cheeks as he handed the armband to Nani. Ronaldo knew what this meant; this may well have been his last chance to win a European Championship with his country.
In the end, his tears were those of joy. It was hard not to feel that after his crushing blow earlier in the evening; Ronaldo had been vindicated.
Switching gears,within the next 24hours, aksu360 will set out to reward her readers across various social media platform, who correctly predicted how the match panned out. Stay tuned...