Rui Patricio heroics lift Portugal to first Euro title

SAINT DENIS– An handful of brilliant saves by Portugal goalkeeper  Rui Patricio kept Portugal in the game and with a strike from distance from Eder in Extra Time gave Portugal a 1-0 win to earn their first major trophy in its history.

With the win Portugal broke the hearts of the host nation in a similar fashion in which Portuguese hearts were broken 12 years ago when Portugal was upset at home in the 2004 EURO by Greece.

France for all the marbles

From the beginning of the game France came out determined to take command of the game, just five minutes in Moussa Sissoko and Antonie Griezmann took shots from distance that went wide of the mark.

One of the best chances of the game for France came in the 10th minute when Dimitri Payet found Griezmann with a long cross found Griezmann whose header was heading into the top corner but Rui Patricio made a key save.

Despite the early dominance France wasn’t able to manage to score and slowly the game became more difficult for the hosts as the minutes passed by.

Midway through the second half France regained control of the game forcing Rui Patricio into a couple more interventions. The last great chance in the game for the French came in the 92nd minute when Andre Pierre Gignac took a shot that beat Rui Patricio but hit the post.

Early setback

Just nine minutes in Payet collided into Cristiano Ronaldo which caused some damage to Ronaldo’s left knee. It was at the 24th minute when he had to be substituted due to the severity of his injury.

Despite that it looked as if France had a clear path to win its third major title at home, but after Ronaldo’s unexpected exit from the game, France took its foot off the gas and failed to create danger for the remaining of the first half.

Substitutions that made the difference

France had been better in the game but wasn’t creating a lot of goal opportunities, what the team needed was someone that could play at a different speed and that is exactly what they got when Kingsley Coman cam into the game.

In the 66th minute a cross from Coman into the box found Griezmann with space but his header sailed just high of the goal.

On the other hand manger Fernando Santos introduced striker Eder into the game and despite not generating much danger himself he allowed the midfielders that were playing up high Nani and Ricardo Quaresma to be able to back up and play in their natural positions which allowed the team to keep more possession in their opponents’ half.

Eder’s ability to play as post allowed him to retain the ball up high and then set up teammates coming in behind him, he was crucial part in earning a couple of free kicks and corners for the team

The lone opportunity that Portugal generated in regulation came in the 80th minute. Nani who sent a ball destined for Eder instead took direction to goal and forced a save by Lloris, Quaresma who won the rebound attempted a bicycle that was also well handled by Lloris.

Despite a clear dominance from France in the 90 minutes of regulation, it was Portugal who became the most dangerous team in extra time. An Eder’s  header from close range was contained by Lloris at the 104th minute. A free kick from Raphael Guerreiro hit the crossbar in the 108th minute.

The game changing moment came in the 109th minute when Eder found the ball in the left flank, cut inside and fought off the pressure of Laurent Koscielny and took a shot from distance that beat Lloris in the bottom corner to give Portugal a surprising lead and became the championship winning goal.

Rui Patricio steals the show

The save on Grizmann’s header just 10 minutes in but it was just once of many time that his involvement was needed. Rui Patricio also made more comfortable saves to a couple of shots from Sissoko near the end of the first half.

His services were needed once again in the 75th when Giroud was the recipient of a through ball and took a shot that Patricio was able to keep out. Nine minutes later Sissoko once again from long-range and once again with an acrobatic save Rui Patricio was able to keep the shot from going into the back of the net.

Aftermath

The 1-0 victory became the first major trophy in Portuguese football history. Although the style of play from Portugal has not been up to par to match the talent they have on the pitch, the team was able to grind out results and took full advantage that the French teamed looked out of gas after the 90 minutes.

Portugal became the 7th team to earn a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup were Russia, Germany, Australia, Chile, Mexico and New Zealand are already awaiting.

The UEFA EURO 2020 will take place across 13 different cities from 13 different countries. The host cities in 2020 will be Dublin, Glasgow, Bilbao, Budapest, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Brussels, Munich, Rome, Saint Petersburg, Baku and London which will host the semifinals and final of the tournament.

 

 

 

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