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Portugal, triumph of tenacity


There were only nine minutes gone when Cristiano Ronaldo felt the force of an ugly challenge from Payet (which Clattenburg deemed not a foul, never mind a card) which left the Portuguese star crippled. His face showed his shock and the pain immediately. He tried to play on, initially without any bandaging support and then with it. But after 25 minutes he finally collapsed and was stretchered off, dejected. Portugal, the final and everything, had much to lose. In this moment, with France pressing, the result seemed inevitable. It was now a question of when, not if, France would score their first goal, and then how many would follow.

Cristiano Ronaldo knows his final is over.
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Cristiano Ronaldo knows his final is over.FERNANDO ZUERASDIARIO AS

But Portugal regrouped well in a 4-5-1 formation and France reaffirmed that they are a very strong side but not much else. In actual play, only Griezmann stepped up. The rest was about keeping it tight, above all Sissoko. But there was little football. Payet who has shone at the tournament was tasked with diluting any Cristiano impact. When Deschamps decided to bring on Coman instead, France enjoyed their best moments. But Santos, skilled in Latin and computing, reshuffled his pack, he introduced Moutinho and Eder and the spell of danger from the French ceased. The final part of the ninety minutes was in the balance and took us to extra-time.

Renato Sanches of Portugal and Dimitri Payet of France battle for the ball.
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Renato Sanches of Portugal and Dimitri Payet of France battle for the ball.ETIENNE LAURENTEFE

Luis Suárez, a wise old man, said on the radio show Carousel on la SER, 'give the ball to Eder'. And they did so. And he entertained, he kept it and returned it. And in one of those moments of possession, with no one close enough to take a return, he tussled with Koscielny, got free and struck a low shot which beat Lloris. This left just eight minutes to resist an exhausted France lacking belief to finally lift to the sky the trophy that Xavi had deposited on the sideline as part of the with the band on the run. It’s admirable that Portugal have only won one game in ninety minutes, but they’ve known how to get out of difficult situations. Football is also .

Eder of Portugal scores the deciding goal.
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Eder of Portugal scores the deciding goal.Alex LiveseyGetty Images