Football

Payet's tackle saw Ronaldo withdrawn after 25 minutes.

Dimitri Payet hits back at criticism for Cristiano Ronaldo tackle

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Sunday night's Euro 2016 final was meant to be Cristiano Ronaldo's time to shine yet he was cruelly denied the chance to do so by Dimitri Payet.

With just 20 minutes gone, the West Ham midfielder lunged into his Portuguese counterpart and whilst a fair tackle, he left his mark.

Ronaldo immediately looked in pain, so much so that after trying to continue twice, he conceded defeat and asked to be substituted.

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Not what was written in the script.

Nevertheless, Portugal ran out eventual - and surprise - winners thanks to Eder's 109th-minute strike, with France left to rue a number of golden opportunities wasted.

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In the aftermath of his side's disappointing defeat, Payet commented on his challenge that injured Ronaldo and insisted it was unintentional.

Speaking to reporters after the game, per ESPN, he said: "I came in for a tackle, full stop.

"I got the ball back, but if I hurt him it wasn't intentional -- it's not in my nature to be a nasty player on the pitch. There's no question about that."

Here's the tackle in question.

Ouch. That didn't stop Ronaldo from staying in high spirirts, though, with teammate Cedric Soares revealing what the 31-year-old said in the dressing room at half time.

"It was a very tough moment," Soares said, per ESPN. "I remember, for me and the team, everybody was a little bit in shock I think.

Portugal v France - Final: UEFA Euro 2016

"In half-time, Cristiano had fantastic words for us. He gave us a lot of confidence and said 'listen people, I'm sure we will win, so stay together and fight for it.'

"It was really unbelievable. I think all the team had a fantastic attitude. And we showed tonight when you fight as one you are much much stronger."

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Topics:
West Ham United
Real Madrid
Football
Cristiano Ronaldo
Dimitri Payet
Portugal National Football Team
Euro 2016

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