When Cristiano Ronaldo suffered a knee injury in the first half to the 2016 European Championship final, the odds on a Portugal winning rose drastically.
Portugal were already underdogs against France. Without their talisman, all hope looked lost.
But France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has explained how Ronaldo’s exit in the 25th minute actually benefited Fernando Santos’ team.
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Portugal upset the odds in extra-time, Eder coming off the bench to score the winner and secure Portugal and Ronaldo’s first international honour.
The Real Madrid man joined in the celebrations but his evening took a turn for the worse when he was carried off in tears after a challenge from France’s Dimitri Payet.
The three-time Ballon d’Or required a few minutes of attention before he was replaced and Lloris admits France’s momentum was hurt by the injury.
“He broke the rhythm,” the Tottenham goalkeeper told L’Equipe, “so that was very annoying on the ground.
“Ronaldo is a huge player who we have a lot of respect for, but he really broke the rhythm of the game. And this made them even more solid since there were 11 Portuguese players to defend.”
Another achievement for Ronaldo
More than a month on from the defeat to Portugal and Lloris still carries the scars. He will not get the opportunity to play in an international final in his home country again, something that will no doubt hurt for the remainder of his career.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has ticked another achievement off the bucket list. Achieving success with Portugal was always going to be the most difficult accomplishment of his career simply because his international teammates aren’t at his level, but nobody can take Euro 2016 away from him, even if he played just 25 minutes of the final.
Ronaldo’s antics after he left the pitch will never be forgotten. The Madrid winger took some stick for joining his manager on the touchline to offer some tactical advice to Portugal’s players.
"Cristiano Ronaldo didn't help in any way by doing that in the final few minutes of the Euros final," Jose Mourinho told Portugal's SporTV, per the Mirror.
"There were 11 players on the pitch doing their job, and the person in charge of directing them was the coach.”
Ultimately, it worked. Ronaldo helped his teammates over the line and has a winners medal to show for it.
Would Portugal have won Euro 2016 if Ronaldo stayed on the pitch? Let us know in the comments section below!
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