SAINT-DENIS: Antoine Griezmann, having fired France to the Euro 2016 final with his top-scoring six-goal performances, came up short when it mattered writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
This was a second major setback on the international stage within two months for the 25-year-old after he missed a penalty in Atletico de Madrid’s defeat by neighbours Real in the Champions League Final in Milan in May.
Griezmann had opportunities against Portugal to add to his tally and shoot Les Bleus into emulating their home-ground triumph in 1984. He had a header tipped over the bar by superb goalkeeper Rui Patricio after only 10 minutes, saw an angled shot saved in the 58th then, most notably, sent an ‘open goal’ header to a perfect Kingsley Coman cross in the 66th.
Reflecting sadly on defeat, he said: “It’s cruel but it’s also been magnificent to have had this wonderful experience. Football is like this. It does bring sad times but you have to learn from them and come back stronger.
“We gave everthing so we have no regrets. I’m proud of the team. We weren’t a sclinical as we have been against Germany in the semi-final. Gignac hit the post. I had some chances and didn’t miss by much and there were some good saves by their goalkeeper.
“Later on I know I’ll be proud about being the tournament’s leading scorer but, for the moment, my main emotion is one of disappointment for my team-mates. I really wanted to win the trophy with them.”
Griezmann paid tribute to Portugal and their ability to overcome the early injury to Ronaldo.
He said: “Portugal are not only Ronaldo. They were very solid defensively and scored their winning goal without having Ronaldo on the pitch. They were a great group of players.”
French goalkeeper/captain Hugo Lloris thought the game “came down to fine margins.”
He said: “We created a lot more chances but we were not cool and clinical enough but that’s football. Congratulations to Portugal. They didn’t play great football but they deserve credit for being mentally stronger the longer the tournament went on even though they won only one match in 90 minutes.
“Overall I think this has been a positive experience. We were gutted we could not win the tournament. We can build on what we achieved here. We put in a lot lot of effort but the overriding emotion is a lot of dsadness
“We need to keep our heads held high. We made a lot of French people proud and that the main thing.”
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