Upon getting to the finals, Portugal always looked like they had a mountain to climb against the hosts and favourites, and the climb became steeper after star player Cristiano Ronaldo was stretchered off injured midway through the first half. An underpar France were unable to capitalise on countless opportunities, however, and it was the underdogs who finally broke the deadlock in the second half of extra time.

It came from the unlikeliest of sources as fresh leg, Éder spun clear of Laurent Koscielny before hitting a low shot past the elusive grasp of Hugo Lloris and into the bottom corner. Portugal, who had only won one game in normal time throughout the entire tournament, duly ended a winless run stretching back to third place at the 1966 World Cup, and including the heartbreak of a home final defeat to Greece at Euro 2004.

 

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Éder celebrates scoring the decisive goal in the Euro 2016 final. Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

Portugal’s hopes always appeared to lie on the sturdy shoulders of Ronaldo; the continent’s star player that had inspired his team through the knock-out matches but disaster struck in the 17th minute when the Real Madrid icon was left hobbling – and tearful – after a collision with Dimitri Payet. Twice the 31-year-old broke down and received treatment to his knee, and twice he valiantly tried to continue; until eventually he threw his captain’s armband to the ground and departed on a stretcher to sympathetic applause from both sets of supporters.

 

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Euro 2016 final football match between France and Portugal at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on July 10, 2016. / AFP / MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo lies on agony before departing from the field midway through the opening half Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

A hobbling Ronaldo returned to the pitch to encourage his team-mates and give them the much needed confidence during the interval between the end of normal time and the beginning of extra time.  

But it was the men in red on the pitch who proved the fittest, as first Raphaël Guerreiro thundered a free-kick into the crossbar before unheralded Éder took his moment to shine.

It brought to light a match which rather summed up a tournament capable of great individual moments, but few glorious matches.

Portugal, however, will care little after producing the greatest moment in the nation’s sporting history. They reiterated the fact that self-confidence is everything and more.

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