Coming on the heels of France’s agonizing semi-final defeat to West Germany in the 1982 World Cup, Les Bleus needed no more disappointment. But while France was taken to the brink by a determined Portugal, this time they would not be denied. An end-to-end game got going after 20 minutes, when Michel Platini, the consensus player of the tournament, cleverly decided against taking a free-kick in a promising position, allowing Jean-François Domergue to use the element of surprise and give the host nation the lead.
Despite dominating, France couldn’t score a decisive second, which either gave the Portugese heart or dispirited the French (perhaps a bit of both). Sure enough, Jordão equalized and then appeared to really rub it in by giving the underdogs an extra-time advantage. Staring defeat in the face, France had 15 minutes to save themselves and with six minutes of extra time to play, Domergue was both involved in the build-up and scored France’s equalizer to make it 2-2. Sensing blood, and with Portugal desperately holding on for the lottery of penalty kicks, midfield maestro Jean Tigana, on his 29th birthday, was a man possessed, seemingly dribbling half the pitch, with the ball eventually ending at the feet of Platini, who would score the last minute winner that took France to its first major championship final. And they wouldn’t disappoint, beating Spain 2-0. But it would be the ecstatic scenes of Platini wheeling away in delight, with the French flags flying on a balmy night in Marseille, that was the enduring moment of the tournament.