It was a night of tactical genius from Portugal coach Fernando Santos. Many might call it a defensive and boring strategy but he did what was needed to help them win their first major trophy.
When Ronaldo was stretchered out in the 25th minute, I thought it was all but over for Portugal. His substitute Ricardo Quaresma was not able to lead the frontline as effectively, and in all fairness it was too much to fill Ronaldo’s shoes.
Reading the situation, Santos changed his tactics and put all his men behind the ball which was a masterstroke.
France dominated possession and pressed hard for an opening but they could not do much in the final third. Portugal’s backline consisting Pepe, Cedric, Jose Fonte, and Raphael Guerreiro put up a stubborn show in front of the goal and frustrated the French forwards.
Even though Portugal’s defence came up with a strong show, for me, Les Blues’ chief villain was Rui Patricio. The goalie stood like a wall in front of the goal and thwarted France every time.
It was truly a brave decision from Santos when he brought on Eder in the 79th minute replacing the youngster Renato Sanches. The move did wonders for Portugal as he sank in a venomous long-range strike in the 111th minute past Hugo Lloris to help Portugal take an unexpected lead in the match.
After that it was about holding their nerves and seeing the match through. It was good to see Ronaldo motivating his troops from the touchline. For a man who has achieved so much in his career, his efforts showed how strong his desire to win a major international trophy was.
It has indeed taken the monkey off his back and put him in the list of all-time greats, but the night will go down as how fortune favours the brave.
I feel sad for France as they played exceptionally well in the tournament. I congratulate Fernando Santos and his boys for their first-ever international success and hope they have many more in the future.
The writer is the new coach of Delhi Dynamos