UEFA Euro 2016 is history now, with Portugal claiming the title over the hosts and the hot favorites, France. It was the first time that 24 teams competed in the tournament and the debut season received some mixed reviews. However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal achieved the feat with many criticizing them since they only succeeded to win once inside 90 minutes.
While the entire tournament was an exciting event, there were some utterly exceptional moments. A blend of drama, emotions, rivalry, vengeance, shocks and some unexpected results, UEFA Euro 2016 was literally a roller-coaster ride. Let’s relive some of the best and memorable moments from the epic:
The New Face: Dimitri Payet
Not many had heard this name before 2015, but after a memorable spell at West Ham United, Dimitri Payet earned his French call for the first major tournament. Landing exactly on the expectations, Payet delivered the best. In the opening match of the tournament between France and Romania, it was Payet who kept the atmosphere blazing. A late injury-time winner served with a thunderbolt scored from his weaker left foot was a treat to watch. What a way to kick start a major tournament like Euro 2016. Payet carried his impressive form throughout the tournament and was among the most exciting players in the tournament.
Iceland Thrashing England Out of the Tournament
England once again failed to impress at an international stage and were eventually relegated from the tournament by Iceland in the last 16. The minnows, Iceland gave their best shot and were all over the game giving no chance to the English Lions to come on top. Iceland had a memorable run in the tournament. Unfortunately, they were not able to go ahead but they already made history by reaching in the last 8.
Sheer Defensive Brilliance from Boateng
Germany landed in France with a perfect defensive record and it wouldn’t have lasted long against Ukraine if Jerome Boateng did not come to the rescue. The Bayern Munich guy saved the day when Germany was leading 1-0 against Ukraine. They almost scored but Boateng kept the ball away through some brilliant acrobatic skills when it was leading towards the empty net. His brilliant display of defense kept the German’s ahead.
Irish Making History
The Irish party was at a full swing – and yes they drink a lot but they also know how to make others happy. The antics by the Irish fans have earned them respect but it’s the players form Republic of Ireland who made history. One thing this tournament will be known for is for late winners. Republic of Ireland’s Robbie Brady scored in the dying moments of the game against Italy to reserve a place in the last 16. Sadly, this late drama forced the elimination of Turkey and Albania.
The Best of Cristiano Ronaldo
The man leading the Portuguese, Cristiano Ronaldo displayed his best in the last group match against Hungry. It was a do or die situation for Portugal and their charismatic captain did not disappoint. Scoring two epic goals to end the tie in 3-3 draw, he gave Portugal a slight chance to progress, which they eventually did and later on claimed the title as well. It was the pickup moment for Ronaldo and the form he gathered was seen in the entire tournament as well.
The Goal from Gera
The superhero form Hungary, Gera scored the first goal against Portugal in the 19th minute to give his side a commanding lead. It wasn’t just some normal set-piece but a dazzling volley for which the keeper had no answer. It was a stunning strike that was also voted as the goal of the tournament by the fans.
Germany vs. Italy: History Rewritten
Italy had never lost to Germany in an international tournament but the match between two powerhouses of Europe is in the books now. It was one of the most fascinating matches, where both teams were equipped with clever managers and setoff players. It had everything; drama, vengeance, history, and surely the humor from Simone Zaza's penalty miss that will keep on delighting many.
England vs. Wales: Who Put the First Slay
The Battle of Britain, as what most fans call it, had a tragic end. The drama unfolded at Lens where England narrowly edged past Wales. The determined Welsh side had the first blow but in the second half it was an all English affair as Vardy equalized but it was Daniel Sturridge who came from the bench only to score in the dying moments of the game, another late winner. Jubilation at one end and heartbreak at the other; that’s football for you!
The Welsh Dream Run
It was the first appearance by the Welsh team in a major tournament after 1958 and topping the table with teams like England, Russia, and Slovakia is a story worth telling. Winning their first match against Slovakia kept the Welsh emotions high but even a loss in the second match did not force any decline in determination. Wales demolished Russia in their last group match to top the table and finish above archrivals England. The Red Dragons showcased a brilliant display of football; a magical night in the history of Welsh football. The surprise appeared when Wales demolished Belgium in the Quarter’s and booked their place in the last 4. It was a dream run for Wales since they not only qualified for the tournament but also reached the last 4.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s Wonder Goal Against Poland
What a strike it was! We are left wondering why it didn’t win the best goal award. A perfect volley in the corner stunned everyone in the stadium. It had everything; idea, audacity, and execution. It was a difficult position to score a goal but he made it look so easy with his perfect technique.
Eder Gave the Last Blow
The extra-time winner by Eder was preferably the most exciting moment of the tournament since it helped Portugal clinch its first European title. Eder came as a substitute and scored the long-range goal from nowhere, for which Hugo Lloris had no answer. Better goals were scored in the tournament but the occasion matters a lot. Ronaldo got injured early on in the match and had to leave the field so at that time something unreal had to happen. Eder did the same and became a hero in Paris.
Northern Ireland’s goalkeeper McGovern won millions of hearts after his heroics against Germany. Northern Ireland lost the battle but McGovern delivered a brilliant performance to be remembered for long in his debut appearance for his country.
Iceland played cool against Portugal sealing a point a piece. The smallest nation in the tournament displayed a brilliant skill of football and ended the game at par with Portuguese.
Spain was seen at their best with two convincing wins at the start of the tournament but their winning streak at Europe ended after they lost to Croatia in their last group match.
Albania and Turkey showcased outstanding display of football in their last group matches but failed to qualify for the last 16. However, Albania made history by claiming their first win.
Antonio Griezmann displayed an outstanding feat of talent and amazing skills in the entire tournament by scoring 6 goals and claiming the golden boot award.
The most prestigious tournament of Europe is over and we congratulate Portugal for being crowned the Champions of Europe.