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Three things we learned from Portugal’s win vs. France in EURO 2016 final

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Portugal and France played out 120 minutes of sheer tension in the EURO 2016 final in Paris on Sunday.

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In the 109th minute the game-winner arrived through Eder, a substitute who plays his club soccer in France as his lone goal beat France. The hosts were stunned as Portugal won its first-ever major title.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s early injury stole the headlines as he was carried off in the first half and the other major storyline was the moth problem in Saint-Denis, as millions seemed to descend from the hot, steamy Parisien sky.

[ MORE: Portugal stun France, win EURO 2016 ]

The final played out in a tense atmosphere inside the Stade de France but it was Portugal who celebrated long into the night.

Here’s three things we learned from Paris.


INJURED RONALDO JOINS THE IMMORTALS

Diego Maradona led Argentina to glory. Pele led Brazil to glory. Now, Ronaldo has done the same with Portugal without playing past the 25th minute in the final.

In the ninth minute Dimitri Payet thundered into a block tackle with Ronaldo which saw his right thigh slam into Ronaldo’s left knee. Portugal’s captain went down in agony, holding his leg and then receiving treatment twice, having his knee bandaged on the second occasion.

[ VIDEO: Ronaldo injured early on ]

Then, in the 25th minute, Ronaldo knew it was over. He signaled to the bench and crumpled in a heap on the grass at the Stade de France as a moth fluttered on his face. In tears, he sobbed as he took the captains armband off and gave it to Nani. Ronaldo was inconsolable and the man who had led Portuguese soccer for over a decade was distraught at missing their finest moment.

Payet will receive plenty of ire from Portuguese fans and soccer purists around the world who wanted to see Ronaldo led Portugal to glory and although it wasn’t a high tackle or a particularly dangerous one, Payet knew what he was doing.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Portugal is challenged by Patrice Evra (L) of France during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

As a 19-year-old Ronaldo lost in the final of EURO 2004 on home soil as Portugal’s golden generation were stunned by Greece 1-0. He has worked his entire international career to get Portugal back to a major final with his 61 goals in 133 appearances showing how he has never shirked his responsibility for the Selecao.

This final was meant to be his moment. He is Portugal. He embodies this team and throughout the tournament he drove his teammates on to new heights, scoring three times and adding three assists as well as inspiring them on and off the pitch.

Unfortunately lightning had struck twice at the Stade de France. In 1998 the French were handed a huge boost ahead of the World Cup final, the last time they hosted a major tournament. The Brazilian Ronaldo — at the time he was at the peak of his powers, the greatest goalscorer in the world — went down with a bizarre illness before the game which was never truly explained and although he played on, he wandered around the pitch lost. Brazil lost 3-0 to France and Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup on home soil.

This time, the Portuguese Ronaldo lifted the trophy. He wasn’t around to play for most of the game but his team won it for him as he yelled from the sidelines, hobbling around. They did it for Ronaldo who was fit enough to sit on the bench and led the scenes of utter jubilation after Eder’s goal and then at the final whistle.

For all he’s achieved in the game at club level, even though he played a small part in the final, Ronaldo finally has a major trophy with Portugal. He’s craved it for so long.

This may never settle the Lionel Messi vs. Ronaldo debate (even though Messi has failed to achieve glory with Argentina and maybe never will after his retirement) but there’s no doubting this title means Ronaldo has joined the immortals of the soccer pantheon.


FRANCE DISJOINTED THROUGHOUT

Didier Deschamps’ side had to change their gameplan once Ronaldo went off. They looked uneasy and never got going.

Paul Pogba had a quiet game in midfield, Payet did little apart from injuring Ronaldo and was subbed out, plus Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud had little service to work with.

France seemed to be waiting for things to happen rather than making it happen with Moussa Sissoko the only player taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

The Newcastle United midfielder resembled what Pogba should have been. So often blowing hot and cold for Newcastle in the lower reaches of the PL over the past few seasons, Sissoko was at his very best on Sunday, marauding forward time and time again, spanking long-range efforts on goal and he was the best player on the pitch. It is unlikely he will remain at Newcastle in England’s second-tier for much longer.

Deschamps’ decision to bring on Kingsley Coman for Payet was a good one as he whipped in a cross for Griezmann and the tournaments leading scorer somehow headed over from six yards out. He also teed up Giroud and looked lively but even Coman’s spark diminished against the burgundy Portuguese wall.

Andre-Pierre Gignac hit the post right at the end of normal time and it looked like it would be one of those days for France. It was.

France came up short when it mattered most and they will have plenty of regrets about their performance against a Portugal side who soaked up the pressure and won through a hammer blow from Eder.


EDER ETCHES HIS NAME INTO HISTORY

Last season Eder couldn’t get into Swansea City’s team in the Premier League.

He joined French side Lille on loan and has since joined them permanently. He will never have to buy a drink in Portugal again after he turned, ran at France’s defense and slammed home a low shot past Hugo Lloris for his first competitive goal for his nation.

Portugal hadn’t lost their last 10 games to France before this final but it seemed written in the stars that they would win the trophy.

Eder will get the headlines but the likes of Pepe and Jose Fonte at central defense were sublime. Especially Pepe, who headed, tackled and drove the Portuguese on from the back. Nani was also a beast and stepped up in Ronaldo’s absence and so was goalkeeper Rui Patricio. The experienced heads led Portugal to glory and the entire team dug deep, just like they have for the entire tournament. They delivered the first major title in Portugal’s history.

Portugal is now unbeaten in 14 competitive games and even though they only won one game in regulation the whole tournament, plus finished third in their group, they walk away with the trophy.

Manager Fernando Santos has called his team the “ugly duckings” and there was nothing pretty about this Portugal team. However, they delivered defensive masterclasses throughout the to come out on top of 24 teams this summer.

These Portuguese Men-of-War will never be forgotten in their homeland.

Who can Premier League clubs draw in the Champions League knockout rounds?

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All four Premier League entrants join a quartet of La Liga squads to comprise half of the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds field.

Atletico Madrid and Atalanta scored the final two berths with wins on Wednesday, giving us the 16 teams left in the race to meet in Istanbul on May 20.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Serie A and the Bundesliga have three teams in the final 16, with Ligue 1 putting two in the fray.

Teams can neither be drawn against teams from their own domestic league nor UCL group.

Seeded teams

Barcelona
Bayern Munich
Juventus
Liverpool
Manchester City
Paris Saint-Germain
RB Leipzig
Valencia

Unseeded teams

Atalanta
Atletico Madrid
Borussia Dortmund
Chelsea
Lyon
Napoli
Real Madrid
Tottenham Hotspur

Who can PL sides draw?

Chelsea: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig

Liverpool: Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon, Real Madrid

Manchester City: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon, Napoli, Real Madrid

Tottenham Hotspur: Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, Valencia

Bayern Munich tops Spurs 3-1 behind Davies, Coutinho

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Ryan Sessegnon scored his first Spurs and Champions League goals as Tottenham Hotspur rested many of its top players in a 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich in a group stage dead rubber on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Kingsley Coman, Philippe Coutinho, and Thomas Muller scored for group-winning Bayern, who got an absolute star show out of 19-year-old Canadian left back Alphonso Davies.


Three things we learned

1. Spurs depth gets valuable time: Being a dead rubber, both teams left key components out of the fray or at least the Starting XI. Jose Mourinho left Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Jan Vertonghen out of the 18 and both Heung-Min Son and Davinson Sanchez on the bench. That didn’t stop his men from a strong showing in a very difficult venue, though Bayern rested David Alaba and put Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka on the bench to start the match.

2. Coutinho beats old nemesis again: The longtime Liverpool man was at his very best on Wednesday, and his wonderful second-half goal means he’s now scored against Spurs for Liverpool, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich (also assisting against the North Londoners while with Inter Milan). That’s also because his 14 matches against Spurs are the most he’s played against one club in his senior career.

3. Canadian super show from Davies: Alphonso Davies turned 19 just over a month ago but already looks a man in his prime. He registered an assist and hit the post in addition to making seven successful dribbles and winning five tackles, also completing almost 90 percent of his passes. There are shades of teammate David Alaba in his game. That’s high praise, but Davies potential may be higher than the Austrian.

Man of the Match: Davies was absolutely electric at left back. It’d be too easy to give it to Coutinho, who was just as good, and like Spurs manager we relish the chance to be contrarian.


Early chances were there for both sides, Paulo Gazzaniga the busier of the keepers and making a fine save on Benjamin Pavard.

Serge Gnabry tried to find Philippe Coutinho through a sea of defenders, but his pass bounded off Moussa Sissoko and onto the path of back-post residing Coman for the opener.

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Spurs leveled the score in the 20th minute when Sessegnon collected a deflected shot and buried it past Manuel Neuer.

Sissoko led a rush but couldn’t get cross over the fray as Spurs looked better money for a second goal.

Then Joshua Kimmich saw a yellow card for standing firm as Giovani Lo Celso wandered into him.

Bayern had the better of the final 15 minutes of the half, when Muller was in prime position to deposit Alphonso Davies’ rebound off the goal post.

Coutinho tried to put the match to bed in stoppage time, but his blazing shot from distance was touched off the bar by Gazzaniga.

He’d get his goal via another audacious shot, this time zipping a lay-off from Alphonso Davies through traffic and inside the far post.

Heung-min Son had a late breakaway saved by Neuer.

Saint-Maximin absence to ask more of struggling Almiron, Joelinton

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Newcastle United lightning bolt Allan Saint-Maximin is going to miss a month with a hamstring injury suffered late in the Magpies’ 2-1 defeat of Southampton at St. James’ Park.

The ebullient Saint-Maximin played deep into the match despite a minor injury, and was on of the main reasons Newcastle won. He helped set up the winning goal, but left the stadium on crutches.

That left Steve Bruce questioning his decision to keep “ASM” in the match.

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Now the electric Frenchman is set to miss fixtures against Burnley, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City, and an FA Cup third round match versus either Boston United or Rochdale.

Saint-Maximin’s absence will hurt Newcastle all-around, but especially when its counter-attack tries to take down bigger sides. His 4.5 dribbles per match makes him one of just three players in the Premier League with more than 3.1 (Adama Traore and Wilfried Zaha).

Ultimately, though, this could provide struggling Joelinton more looks at performing on the wing opposite of Miguel Almiron. The Brazilian will have to work center forward at times as Andy Carroll certainly can’t go every game, and Dwight Gayle, Christian Atsu, and Yoshinori Muto could also be asked to play prominent roles.

And, of course, this will demand much more from industrious but sloppy Miguel Almiron, whose expected goal total is 2.5 (he has zero).

Sessegnon beats Neuer to score first Spurs, Champions League goal

Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Ryan Sessegnon has his first Spurs goal, which also happens to be his first UEFA Champions League goal, and he’ll love telling the tale of it.

The 19-year-old Englishman ripped a rocket past Manuel Neuer of all people, collecting a deflection to equalize early in Tottenham’s match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Sessegnon entered the day with an assist in 30 minutes spread across three appearances for Spurs, and needed just 20 more minutes to find a goal.

He made a big money move from Fulham this summer, having made a remarkable 120 senior appearances. Almost all of those came before he turned 19, and he’s scored 25 times with 18 assists.

Kingsley Coman has Bayern’s goal as the teams remain locked at 1 after Bayern hung 7 on Spurs in England earlier in the group stage.