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Added July 12th, 2016 by Ian

Portugal crowned Champions of Europe for first time

Portugal has been crowned soccer champions of Europe after their 1-0 win over host nation France in Saint Denis on July 10th. Portuguese fans feared the worst for their side after team captain and star Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off the Stade de France pitch on a stretcher in the first half. However, goaltender Rui Patricio made a string of great saves before getting some help from the goalpost in the 90th minute to keep the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes. Substitute Eder then stunned the home supporters with the winning goal on a low 20-yard drive into the bottom corner in the 109th minute.

Ronaldo injured his left knee during a collision with Dmitri Payet in the first have and eventually left the field about 10 minutes later after trying to continue. The Real Madrid player stayed around to urge on his teammates and celebrated heartily with them after the game. Ricardo Quaresma took over for Ronaldo when he was taken off after 24 minutes while Nani was handed the captain’s armband. This is Portugal’s first major soccer tournament triumph and it comes 12 years after losing the Euro 2004 competition at home 1-0 to Greece. Portugal reached this year’s final by beating Wales 2-0 in the semifinals while France downed Germany 2-0 in their semifinal match.

France entered the game on an 18-game winning streak as hosts of a major tournament. They won the 1984 European Championships at home in 1984 as well as the 1998 World Cup. The French also won the Euro 2000 title in Holland. Portugal managed to win the tournament even though they weren’t at their best. They were helped by the luck of the draw and a few timely goals. The team won just a single game in regulation time with two victories coming in extra time and one in a penalty shootout. They also drew all three of their group stage games, but didn’t lose a match in the tournament.

France went into the match as the betting favourites and had beaten Portugal 10 straight times before Sunday. Portugal’s last triumph over France had come back in April of 1975 with a 2-0 win in a friendly in France. The two nations had met two dozen times before the Euro 2016 Final with France winning 18 matches, losing five and drawing the other one. Portugal entered the final as the eight-ranked country in the world by FIFA while France was rated 17th. Portugal played in Group F in the group stage in one of the tournament’s the weaker groups with 20th-ranked Hungary, 10th-ranked Austria and 34th-ranked Iceland.

Portugal just advanced to the knockout stage after three straight draws as one of the four best third-place teams. They scored and conceded four goals in the group stage by drawing 1-1 with Iceland, 0-0 with Austria and 3-3 against Hungary. Portugal then faced Croatia during the round of 16 and played to a 90-minute 0-0 draw. Quaresma then scored the game’s only goal with three to go in extra time. Portugal then took on Poland in the quarterfinals and won in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. Their lone regulation-time win came next when they beat Wales in the final four. France did manage to win something though as Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann took home the event’s Golden Boot as its top scorer with six goals.

 
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