An ominous cloud hung over the 2016 soccer Euro Final between France and Portugal. Security was tight as Portuguese and French fans mingled before and after the match. Police with shields and batons were quick to break up minor scuffles between opposing team supporters and keep the crowds away from major landmarks. However, if only for a moment, that cloud was lifted when Portugal won a shocking 1-0 victory over France despite their most famous player, Cristiano Ronaldo, sitting the game out due to a sudden injury.
“We lost our main man, the man who could score a goal at any moment,” Portugal defender Pepe said of Ronaldo, who left the game in the 25th minute. “But we were warriors on the pitch. We said that we’d win it for him.”
The win was a major upset. It took place on the Stade de France, a field where France had won its last 18 major tournaments. It was also the first time Portugal won in a major match against France.
“It was quite a closed match, but we had our chances,” France manager Didier Deschamps said. “The disappointment is there. It’s huge. And it will take time to digest it.”
Watching his team win from the sidelines was intensely bittersweet for Ronaldo. He was left with an injured knee after crashing into another player in the eighth minute. He tried valiantly to keep playing, but seven minutes later the pain became too much.
“I’ve been looking for this for a long time,” Ronaldo said. “Since 2004, I’ve asked God for a second chance at this.”
Even though he was not with them on the field when they scored the victory, his team gave him credit.
“He still gave us all his strength and bravery, and we got this important victory, both for him and all of Portugal,” said Éderzito “Éder” Lopes, who scored the winning goal.