Portugal fans paint the town red (and green)
AFTER a night of rowdy celebrations, Portugal's European champions - led by Cristiano Ronaldo - returned home to a heroes' welcome on Monday and a country overjoyed by their upset win over France.
Tens of thousands of fans took over the streets of Lisbon waving red-and-green national flags to mark the historic victory set up by substitute Eder's extra-time goal that stunned the hosts on Sunday night in the Euro 2016 final at the Stade de France.
Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo, who was stretchered off injured and crying early, hugged the trophy on the special flight that took the Portuguese team home.
Two fire trucks sprayed jets of water in green and red over the plane as it taxied to the airport terminal.
With man-of-the-match defender Pepe carrying the prize down the steps, the 23-man squad boarded an open-top bus marked "Champions" for a victory parade.
"We've entered into the history of Portugal, thank you for everything," triple world footballer of the year Ronaldo shouted to fans.
"This triumph doesn't solve our problems but at least it's making us happy," Lucia Antunes, a 41-year-old unemployed woman, told Agence France-Presse, alluding to Portugal's struggle with an economic crisis and austerity.
The team were received by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, with Ronaldo brandishing the trophy from the balcony of the presidential palace.
"You are the best in Europe!" the head of state told the victorious team, decorating them with Commander of Order of Merit medals.
"You have given an example by winning courtesy of your courage, determination and humility," he added.