A solitary extra-time winner from Eder earned Portugal their first-ever European Championship title, at the expense of hosts France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Sunday night.
The forward, who came on as a substitute, was the match winner after 110 minutes when his long-range strike found the bottom corner – in a game overshadowed by a first-half knee injury to their iconic captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Didier Deschamps named an unchanged France starting XI for the Final, while Pepe and William Carvalho returned to Fernando Santos’ Portugal line-up.
In the opening exchanges, it would be Portugal who registered the first chance of the showpiece after four minutes, as Nani galloped in behind the Les Bleus’ back-line, though having chested down Cedric Soares’ long-ball, he could only lift his shot over Hugo Lloris’ crossbar.
Antoine Griezmann then had two opportunities in quick succession. Firstly, the forward skewed a shot into the side-netting, before connecting with Dimitri Payet’s cross from the left, his improvised looping header was clawed away to safety by goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who also denied Olivier Giroud’s header from the resulting corner.
Industrious midfielder Moussa Sissoko was next to try his luck when he advanced towards goal, but his left-footed shot just went beyond the upright.
After 26 minutes, Ronaldo was stretchered off with a knee injury, sustained from an earlier challenge by Payet, and left the pitch in tears to a standing ovation, as Ricardo Quaresma replaced the Real Madrid man.
Just after the half-hour mark; Patricio was called into action again, this time he was forced to beat away Sissoko’s rasping drive, after he jinked his way into the penalty area.
In the closing stages of the opening period, defender Jose Fonte glanced a towering header over from a corner, as the two nations went into the interval goalless.
As play resumed for the second-half, Paul Pogba dipped a 25-yard shot off target, while substitute Kingsley Coman threaded a ball though to Griezmann, but his first-time attempt was comfortably gathered by Patricio.
Griezmann later missed a guilt-edged chance with 25 minutes left, when he met Coman’s cross from the left, though unmarked from six-yards, the tournament top goalscorer fluffed his lines.
Coman was once again involved in the action, when the winger freed Giroud, however the Arsenal forward could only direct his shot straight at Patricio.
Up the other end, in the final ten minutes, Nani’s cross from the right almost deceived Lloris, after it cannoned back off the crossbar, with Quaresma’s subsequent acrobatic shot held by the France captain.
France pressured for a late winner in normal time. They went close when Sissoko’s rasping long-range effort stung the palms of the Patricio, before Andre Pierre-Giganic clipped the post, after turning Pepe skillfully.
In extra-time, Portugal enjoyed the better of the play, and having hit the bar through Raphael Guerreiro’s free-kick, Santos’ men found the decisive goal after 110 minutes courtesy of Eder, who shrugged off Laurent Koscielny to arrow a fierce 25-yard drive into the bottom right-corner.
France, urged on by the majority of the crowd, desperately searched for an equaliser, but Portugal hung onto claim Europe’s biggest football prize, as the injury-stricken Ronaldo hoisted the Henri Delaunay trophy – his country’s first-ever major tournament win.
Man of the Match: Pepe: (Portugal)
Portugal defender, Pepe, stepped up on the big stage at the Stade de France when it really mattered tonight, by putting in an excellent performance throughout the 120 minutes, as his country defeated France to triumph at EURO 2016.
The Real Madrid man, who returned to the squad for Sunday’s final after missing the semi-final against Wales, proved to be the leader amongst his men, when they lost Ronaldo to injury, thwarting almost every attack that came his way, in a fearless manner.
Pepe, like the rest of his teammates, was resolute throughout the encounter, and fully deserves his Man of the Match crown after a professional performance.