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What we learned about Portugal’s Euro 2016 victory

On Sunday night Portugal where crowned Euro 2016 champions at the Stade De France beating the host nation France thanks to a goal in extra time from Eder. Even the most optimistic of Portuguese supporter wouldn’t have thought that there team where to be crowned champions on July 10th but thats just what happened .

An opening day draw in saint etienne against minnows Iceland was not a good start as Nani put the Portuguese ahead only to be pegged back by a Birkir Bjarnason goal , Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t pleased and it looked like he was going to have a repeat of his very poor World Cup in Brazil saying that the Icelandics played with a small mentality .

Paris was the next venue for Portugal this time against the highly regarded Austrians who ultimately flopped  but once again it was a frustrating night for Cristiano and company as Ronaldo missed a penalty and was kept out by some fine goalkeeping Almer in the Austrian goal.  It wasn’t looking good for Fernando Santos side as they went into the game with Hungary in Lyon .

When Hungary took the lead it looked like Portugal where packing their bags and heading back to Lisbon until Ronaldos magic struck as he picked the ball up midway inside the Hungarian half and hit a slick through ball to Nani to calmly slot the ball into the net . Nani had a great tournament and was rewarded with a move back into the big time joining La Liga side Valencia .

Hungary took the lead again at the start of the second half but then the worlds best showed why hes the best as Ronaldo levelled the scores scoring one of the goals of the tournament back-heeling a cross low across goal and into the net . However Hungary regained the lead shortly afterwards as Dzsudzsak scored a real thunderbolt .

Portugal rallied however and it was that man again Ronaldo who came to the rescue scoring a sublime header but Portugal couldn’t find a winner this caused a waiting game but they managed to get through to the last sixteen where they would face Croatia. Croatia went into the game in Lens the heavy favourites after beating Spain in the group stages .

The game never really got going with both defences holding firm especially Pepe and Jose Fonte for Portugal following Croatia Target man Mario Mandzuckic everywhere he went .  Renato Sanches Bayern Munichs new fifty million euro signing was also impressing the viewers on the night .

As the match ended goalless in ninety minutes you just felt Portugal where going to nick it just with Ronaldos presence on the pitch and with three minutes of extra time remaining they did just that as Ronaldo got on the end of Nanis cross his shot well saved by Subasic but the ball fell to Ricardo Quaresma one of the Portuguese old guard and he couldn’t miss when the ball fell to him.

The quarter final was then contested with Poland who had beat Switzerland on penalties a few days early and it was they who got off to a good start when Robert Lewandowski who was having a quiet tournament tucked the ball away inside a minute . Portugal though responded well and equalised on the half hour mark through Sanches as his effort took a deflection and beat Fabianski  to send the Seleção das Quinas as the Portuguese supporters are known into raptures .

The game got nervy and tense with no real chances being created apart from a chance for Ronaldo in extra time but he couldn’t adjust his feet in time to surely seal the victory . The game would have to be decided on penalties and it the turn of Rui Patricio to be the hero as he saved Jakub Blazczykowkis effort .

This result meant that Portugal would be heading back to Lyon to take on Wales the media mainly talking about the two Real Madrid Galacticos Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale going head to head .  This match saw Ronaldo prove his doubters wrong as he scored his third goal of the tournament scoring a fantastic header and getting his second assist once again for Nani .

It was a fantastic performance from Santos Team as they booked their place in the final against the hosts French and it couldn’t have started any worse as Ronaldo was forced off on twenty five minutes after a clumsy challenge from West Hams Dimitri Payet .  France though looked nervous but had the best two chances of the ninety both through Antoine Griezmann as he had two headers one well saved by Patricio the other sailing over , Gignac thought he had won the game with the last kick of the ball but he hit the post from close range .

Greece 2004s win was near an exact replica to how Portugal won this as luck was on their side but this Portugal team rallied in the final trying to win it for Ronaldo the worlds best as he added another trophy to his name and finally an International trophy one that Messi will never get his hands on as he missed a penalty in the Copa America final and called time on his Argentina career.

Eder scoring the winner in extra time a magical feat for the Portugese team after a slow start to the tournament to be crowned European Champions for the first team is a perfect story 2016 clearly the year of the underdog.

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