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SAINT-DENIS, France – Wasteful finishing came back to haunt France in the European Championship final against Portugal on Sunday, with even tournament top scorer Antoine Griezmann missing chance after chance.
Despite being willed on by an entire country and a packed French crowd, France failed to come up with any original ideas against a stubborn Portugal defense rallied by unyielding defender Pepe.
Midway through the second half, Griezmann reached for Kingsley Coman's cross from the left and headed over from a few meters out. Deep into injury time, substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac hit the post with the goal at his mercy.
Although Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio made several good saves, including one outstanding leaping save from Griezmann's looping header in the ninth minute and another athletic stop to palm away Moussa Sissoko's long-range drive in the 8th, his other stops were more comfortable.
Coach Didier Deschamps will have felt a familiar feeling of frustration.
Although France finished top scorers with 13 goals, it squandered chances throughout the group stage, needing an 89th-minute goal from Dimitri Payet to beat Romania 2-1 in the opening game and with Griezmann breaking the deadlock against Albania in the 90th.
He scored freely after that, netting five goals in the knockout stage to help France reach its first final since the 2006 World Cup.
In the final, his goal touch deserted him.
At the final whistle, center half Laurent Koscielny squatted on his knees, head down. But it was not the defense that let France down.
When France won Euro 2000, it needed an equalizing goal from Sylvain Wiltord with the last kick of injury time to force extra time against Italy. Striker David Trezeguet then scored the Golden Goal winner.
Sixteen years later, there was no such happy ending.