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EURO 2016: Plucky Portugal Conquer The Continent

Portugal EURO 2016
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo hold up the winners' trophy as he celebrates with teammates Portugal's forward Ricardo Quaresma, Portugal's defender Pepe, Portugal's midfielder Joao Moutinho and Portugal's midfielder Adrien Silva after beating France 1-0 to clinch 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. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The charismatic Portugal completed an unimaginable feat by going all the way to conquer the continent in the Stade de France versus the hosts.

A nation that has been in the dumps of late having economically racked up major debts as partnering countries have come to their saviour on multiple occasions are now the champions of Europe.
Thousands partied the night away in central Lisbon as they watched on in delight. Many of the folk that were born in the narrow-strip of the country bordering Spain have fled to find work in more secure areas of the continent and over 1.2 million found refuge in France.
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Paris city centre was crammed full of football fans as the final took place and images surfaced of the Iberian Peninsula nationals jumping for joy below the Eiffel Tower that was lit up in the champion’s colors of purple and green.
One particularly heart warming video went viral, showing a young Portuguese boy comforting a fully grown French man in tears:

Astonishingly, ‘‎A Selecção’ didn’t need their captain and talisman to go all the way. After a late challenge from Dimitri Payet, Cristiano Ronaldo was stretchered off in tears after just 25 minutes of play. Quite dejecting scenes entailed for football fans around the globe as the 31-year-old attempted to play on through the pain.

Ronaldo didn’t have the greatest of tournaments, failing to make any vital impact throughout many games, however the three goals he did score all came at crucial moments in meaningful fixtures. Now his team had to fair without their ‘Plan A’
France huffed and puffed throughout and apart from a great chance for the tournament’s eventual golden boot winner Antione Griezmann that was passed upon, they failed to create much against a stern Portuguese defense of 9 men behind the ball with Nani the solo threat going forwards.
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Joao Mario was a never-ending engine throughout and his bottomless pit of energy was essential in thwarting the French attacks. The name on many people’s lips has been Paul Pogba and the 23-year-old’s effect on the game was muted by the tireless work of the Sporting midfielder.
Led by Real Madrid‘s Pepe in central defense, A Selecção were resolute. Manager Fernando Santos went into the tournament with a successful method; stay organized, disciplined, force oppositions into wide areas and a sign of the team’s togetherness and solidarity is clear to see as they didn’t concede a single goal throughout the knockout phases where opposition is of a higher standard.

As Moussa Sissoko got on the ball and craved attacking runs from teammates, the Portugal penalty area was bombarded. In the 92nd minute, Andre-Pierre Gignac turned in the area and his scuffed shot beat the incredible Rui Patricio in goal but not the post. The ball bounced agonizingly past Griezmann and to safety as the full-time whistle was blown.
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A knee-braced Cristiano Ronaldo entered the field to rally the Portuguese troops during the break and remained on the touchline throughout the entirety of extra-time.
As the relatively dull encounter ticked away, a penalty shoot-out looked inevitable; then with little over 10 minutes remaining, Portugal’s third choice striker Eder that plays his football 200km north in Lille received the ball 40 yards out with his back to goal and Laurent Koscielny for company.
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Just as no options seemed available, the 6-foot-3 inch striker turned his man and fizzed a spectacular strike low into the left hand corner of Hugo Lloris‘ goal, catching the keeper and the whole continent cold and sparking an eruption of wild celebrations that lasted the remainder of the game and continued through until the day after in Lisbon at the celebration parade. Eder was the hero.

The late Eusebio, Luis Figo and Rui Costa are amongst the list of names of legendary players that failed to present silverware to the adoring fans below the city’s town hall.

After traveling in a plane named after the Eusébio, the coach Fernando Santos, goalscorer Eder and captain Cristiano Ronaldo were greeted by rapturous applause from the 5,000-strong crowd as they lifted the country’s first major trophy aloft.
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 And that’s it. The end of a very odd tournament where cautious and cagey tactics prospered and counter attacking football was on show in abundance – real high quality and flowing football were few and far between.

The Icelandic volcano shook the world and the Welsh Dragons roared, but it was a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal that got their hands on the fifteenth edition of the European Championship.
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