Portugal stun France to win Euro 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo left the pitch in tears.
He returned to the pitch in tears.
Between the two, Portugal pulled off a miracle that no one saw coming.
Fernando Santos' stubborn underdogs stunned sceptics and silenced a host nation, defeating France 1-0 on Monday morning (July 11, Singapore time) to win Euro 2016.
Portugal ruined the French fairy tale, but dramatically wrote another, scribbling the late twist in the 109th minute, when substitute Eder thrashed home the winner.
Ronaldo was on his feet in jubilation.
Almost two hours earlier, he was on a stretcher, his tournament ended prematurely by a heavy tackle.
A nightmare turned into fantasy for Portugal's iconic dream weaver, as his nation earned their first piece of silverware.
No one saw it coming inside the Stade de France, where even the weather seemed to shine in the hosts' favour.
Before kick off, the clouds that hung over Paris throughout the tournament finally disappeared as the Stade de France found itself bathed in glorious sunshine.
France, and Paris in particular, had earned their day in the sun, a chance to savour a hosting job thoroughly well done in trying circumstances.
Even a surreal invasion of moths before kick off couldn't dampen spirits. An early floodlight test and the dramatic increase in temperature brought out the winged beasts in their thousands.
Every creature, it seemed, was ready to feast on the final, except perhaps Santos.
Up against an unchanged team of flying Frenchmen, the Portugal coach knew his best chance was to do to the hosts what Greece did to Portugal in 2004 - stifle them, frustrate them and hope that the best opportunities fell to Ronaldo.
Pepe and William Carvalho returned from suspension, but their added grit and gumption made little difference in the early exchanges as France threatened to flatten their opponents.
Rui Patricio's fingertips were called upon in the ninth minute, when Dimitri Payet's angled cross floated onto Antoine Griezmann's head.
His improvised, looping header was fabulously tipped over.
The moths gave way to the men in blue. The French swarmed across the Stade de France surface.
After just 15 minutes, Portugal appeared to be playing for penalties.
Moments later, they were praying for a miracle.
Their potential saviour left the pitch on a stretcher and it was heart-breaking.
On this occasion, there were no tantrums, no tight torsos flexed for the camera, just the tears of a beaten master.
Ronaldo had struggled manfully to run off Payet's heavy tackle, but he pulled up short in a sprint and grimaced.
The crowd booed until supporters realised the magnitude of the injury.
This wasn't playing for time. Ronaldo was out of time.
Whatever his personal quirks, he didn't deserve this.
As he handed the armband to Nani, the sculpted man mountain gave way to the boy in all of us, the one who imagines these moments as sleep beckons.
This isn't the end of Ronaldo. But the final might be remembered as the beginning of the end.
Intriguingly, Ricardo Quaresma's introduction allowed Santos to fix the midfield imbalance, throwing Nani up front alone and switching to a 4-1-4-1. At a stroke, France's dominance was diluted, turning down the volume inside the stadium.
At half-time, the loudest voices were Portuguese.
The occasion appeared to be getting to the French favourites. The overwhelming odds, expectations and home advantage weighed heavily on inexperienced shoulders.
Only Moussa Sissoko rose to the occasion, so much so that when Didier Deschamps intervened, he removed Payet rather than the Newcastle man.
Like his illustrious colleagues, Payet couldn't replicate his earlier form, very much a Gallic rooster caught in the spotlight.
In the 66th minute, an unmarked Griezmann blazed a header over from six yards.
Uncertainty engulfed the stunned venue. The game that started so promisingly descended into drudgery.
At least substitute Kingsley Coman quickened the pace.
His smart pass released Olivier Giroud, whose crisp strike was palmed away by Rui Patricio in the 75th minute.
Hugo Lloris was finally called upon at the other end, beating away Nani's mishit cross before holding Quaresma's follow-up from an overhead kick.
Suddenly, the French faithful realised the 12th man had gone AWOL, calling him back to resuscitate Les Bleus.
Sissoko heeded the call. His firm rising shot from distance was pushed away by the busy Rui Patricio.
And then, right at the death, substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac wriggled free in the box and scuffed a lame shot against the post when it seemed easier to score.
The final act of the 90 minutes neatly summarised the uninspiring fare that had gone before.
As the game stumbled into extra time, red-faced and wheezing, both players and punters alike plodded through proceedings.
Exhaustion trumped accuracy as yellow cards outnumbered clear-cut chances.
Eder's close-range header was too close to Lloris to seriously trouble the French keeper and then Raphael Guerreiro crashed a spectacular, curling free-kick onto the bar.
Somehow, inexplicably, a Portuguese winner seemed the likeliest outcome.
And substitute Eder delivered in the 109th minute.
A full 25m from goal, he swung a long, lanky leg towards the ball and his unstoppable shot arrowed into the bottom corner.
The 28-year-old will never hit a better strike in his life.
Within seconds, he was engulfed, buried beneath jubilant team-mates.
But one Portuguese man walked away, his head in his hands once more.
On the touchline, Ronaldo was crying again.
But these tears had never tasted sweeter.