Paris, July 11 (IANS) Portugal coach Fernando Santos said ‘ugly duckling’ Eder has turned into a beautiful swan after his unlikely winner helped them clinch the Euro football championship final against France.
Santos’ team was dealt a severe blow as their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo had to limp off the field just 24 minutes into the game with a knee injury. But they held on till the 90 minutes, surviving an Andre-Pierre Gignac strike which hit the post.
However, Portugal came back strongly in extra-time with Raphael Guerreiro’s attempt striking the cross-bar and then Eder, who had come in as a substitute, finding the back of the net with a powerful shot from about 25 yards out.
Lille forward Eder, an anonymous hero from Guinea-Bissau who came to the Euro championship almost as a substitute on the Portuguese roster, took a pass from Joao Moutinho in the 109th minute, cut onto his right, and unleashed the perfect strike towards the near-corner, beating a stretched France keeper and captain Hugo Lloris.
“When he came on he said ‘gaffer, I am going to score’ and the ugly duckling scored — he is now a beautiful swan,” Santos was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Santos went onto explain why Eder was introduced late in the game, saying: “When I took Cristiano out I thought of putting Eder on immediately but at that moment I thought we should change the game, so I moved Nani to the middle for him to play his fast game.”
“But we needed someone to play up front and to let the team come up. We needed someone to play up in the air to make it harder for the French later on.”