SAINT-DENIS: Portugal have won Euro 2016, and they owe it all to the unlikeliest of heroes. A stunning extra-time winner from Eder, who 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 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.
Back when 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, arching tip-over from Rui Patricio.
The Payet challenge on Ronaldo that ultimately ended his final within 25 minutes encapsulated the zeal with which France set about their task. Yet the pace of their pressing dropped after Ronaldo's departure: two Moussa Sissoko shots were the sum total of their attacking endeavours for the rest of the half. Portugal, however, saw things through until half-time in relative comfort.
It took 21 minutes of the second half for a clear chance to arise; Griezmann squandered it, almost unbelievably so given the form he is in. Substitute Kingsley Coman's cross from the left was perfect and Griezmann's leap was well-timed, but, from the kind of position that has brought two of his goals this summer, he planted a free header over the bar.
History was failing to repeat itself. In the 75th minute, Olivier Giroud, played through by Coman in a near identical spot to the one that brought a goal against Iceland, saw Rui Patricio turn away Giroud's angled effort.
Portugal's threat had been sporadic, barring a few forays down the wings. They caused alarm 10 minutes from time, when Nani's miscued cross was clawed out from under the bar by Hugo Lloris, who recovered to catch Ricardo Quaresma's overhead kick from the loose ball. Sissoko was then denied from range by the excellent Patricio save before France thought they had won it two minutes into added time. Andre-Pierre Gignac, on for Giroud, twisted Pepe inside out before drilling a shot from the corner of the six-yard box that smacked the inside of the near post before rolling across goal.
When Raphael Guerreiro's free kick hit the bar early in the second period of a generally flat extra-time period, penalties seemed inevitable. Then came Eder's incredible intervention and, against all odds, Portugal's finest hour had come. (ESPN)