REUTERS-Portugal found an unlikely hero as Eder’s thunderous finish deep into extra time secured their first European Championship title after they overcame the early loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to snatch a 1-0 victory over hosts France on Sunday.
The substitute picked the perfect time to score his first competitive goal for his country, marauding forward before letting fly with a bullet shot from 25 meters in the 109th minute.
It was a magic moment for the 28-year-old, who plays for French club Lille after a largely unglamorous career, and a cruel blow for France and their coach Didier Deschamps.
His side had dominated the match, but squandered a number of chances, in front of their devastated home support, who arrived at the Stade de France hoping to celebrate a third European crown.
The trophy was lifted triumphantly by Portugal captain Ronaldo, who broke down in tears at the final whistle after his own game had come to a frustrating end after 24 minutes when he was carried off the pitch on a stretcher with a knee injury.
The script had been written for him to produce a performance to match his status as one of the game’s greats, but he had to settle for a back-stage role after Dimitri Payet’s challenge left him in a heap on the floor.
So much of the build-up had focused on Ronaldo and his hopes of crowning a glittering career with the only achievement missing from his CV, a piece of international silverware.
That was achieved, but, with Eder stealing the limelight and his own role reduced to that of a cajoling cheerleader, it was probably not how Ronaldo would have envisaged his evening panning out.
Yet having been part of the Portugal side that were stunned in the final as hosts by Greece in 2004, he celebrated wildly with his team mates as ticker tape rained down from the rafters.