SAINT-DENIS, France — Portugal’s players crowded around Cristiano Ronaldo as he sat on the turf, but their tearful captain couldn’t withstand the pain of his injury any longer.

The Portuguese had to win their first major trophy the hard way Sunday, stunning France 1-0 in extra time in the European Championship final – having played without Ronaldo from the 25th minute.

Two hours after being carried off on a stretcher, the three-time world player of the year became a champion for the first time with his country.

“I had bad luck because I had a small injury in the beginning of the game, but my colleagues did their part – they run, they fight,” said Ronaldo, who has already won every major club honor. “Nobody believed in Portugal, but we won.”

An unlikely scorer gave Portugal its long-awaited title.

It could be an uncomfortable few months ahead for Eder, the unheralded striker who will return shortly to his French club, Lille, after breaking French hearts with his 109th-minute goal.

“The ugly duckling became beautiful,” Portugal Coach Fernando Santos said.

A second-half substitute, Eder scored only his fourth goal in 29 appearances for Portugal with a low shot from 25 yards past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

“Cristiano told me I would be scoring the winning goal,” Eder said. “He gave me strength and positive energy.”

Portugal denied the French a third final victory on home soil to add to Euro ’84 and the 1998 World Cup.

“Football can be very cruel,” said Lloris, France’s captain. “The overriding emotion is a lot of sadness.”

Twelve years after losing to Greece on home soil in its last appearance in the final, Portugal spoiled the host nation’s party, despite winning only one of its seven games in the first 90 minutes, and after losing the inspirational Ronaldo midway through the first half.

“It was tough because we lost our main man and we had all our hopes pinned on him because he’s a player who can score a goal at any minute,” Portugal defender Pepe said. “When he said he couldn’t go on, I tried to tell my teammates that we have to win it for him, that we were going to fight for him.”

It was a mostly dull and stodgy final, but the record books will only show that Portugal went from third place in its group to champion.

The first European Championship final to be scoreless after 90 minutes seemed a fitting climax to a tournament in which the quality of play deteriorated toward the end.

“We weren’t clinical enough,” said France Coach Didier Deschamps, who lifted the World Cup as a player in 1998. “We weren’t cool-headed enough.”

Even France forward Antoine Griezmann, the tournament’s leading scorer, couldn’t rise to the big occasion. There was no seventh goal of Euro 2016 from the Atletico Madrid forward, who also lost out in the Champions League final six weeks ago to Ronaldo’s Real Madrid.

Unlike his great rival Lionel Messi, the Argentina and Barcelona forward, Ronaldo has now filled his medal void on the major international stage. It’s a rapid turnaround for a national team that exited the 2014 World Cup in the group stage.

“It’s something unbelievable in my career,” Ronaldo said. “Something I deserve.”