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Top Five Greatest Games at The European Championships

Reliving Three Lions on the Shirt, but Germany Wins Euro 1996

There have been some great games at the European Championships over the years. With Euro 2024 starting soon, we take a look back at just five of the greatest games that have had fans on the edge of their seats.

Top Five Greatest Games at The European Championships

1960: France 4-5 Yugoslavia

The first European Championships produced a classic semifinal clash at the Parc de Princes. Despite being without two of their star players Just Fontaine and Raymond Kopa, France where out to make history on home turf by reaching the final.

All seemed to be going to plan as with 15 minutes left to play, the hosts were 4-2 up; however, Yugoslavia were not done. In the space of just four minutes, France went from being in heaven to being in hell.

Tomislav Knez scored on 75 minutes with Drazen Jerković scoring three minutes later. The French were stunned and while they were still figuring out what was going on Jerkovic scored again within a minute to complete an amazing comeback to book a place in the final.

1988: Soviet Union 0-2 Holland

The game that gave us one of the greatest ever goals. The Dutch had been the nearly men of football and despite having great players such as Cruyff, Neeskens and Krol they could never get their hands on a major international trophy.

Having knocked out hosts Germany in the semifinals, Holland were made favourites in this West vs East encounter. Dreadlocked Ruud Gullit gave the Orange army a first-half lead but the best was yet to come.

Having scored a hat trick against England and a winner in the semifinal, striker Marco van Basten was a man in form and full of confidence. As a looping cross was sent into the Soviet’s box, no one expected van Basten to take on the volley from an almost impossible angle. But that’s what he did. The volley was hit to perfection, went back across goal and into the far corner of the net. Holland had won the Euros and the Euros had its greatest goal.

1996: England 4-1 Holland

The summer that football came home. The Three Lions led by Terry Venables were determined to do well as host nation they had been anything but convincing despite a draw with Switzerland and a victory over Scotland.

However, roared on by a capacity crowd at Wembley, England produced their best performance in many years to destroy a Dutch team that didn’t know what had happened.

The Three Lions led 1-0 at halftime but a sensational 11-minute spell in the second half destroyed Holland. Teddy Sheringham scored two and Alan Shearer added his second as England stormed into a four-goal lead. Patrick Kluivert added a late consolation for Holland which was enough to qualify at the expense of Scotland but the night was all about England.

After the game England manager Terry Venables said: “I can sleep easily now. This makes all the years of hard work, the planning and the worrying worthwhile. I’m full of pride, because to beat Holland like this means so much to me.”

The Guardian newspaper added: “The game is now enshrined in folklore as one of England’s greatest-ever performances.”

Read More: Wembley’s Greatest Games 

1996: Germany 1-1 England

So close, yet so far for England as they attempted to reach their first final since 1966. It was the second semifinal between the two in six years and this game was eerily similar.

England took the lead at Wembley after just three minutes but it wasn’t long before the Germans were back on level terms. England created chance after chance but couldn’t find a way of putting the ball into the German net. The closest they came was when Darren Anderton hit the post and Paul Gascoigne was an inch away from a tap-in.

Like at the World Cup in 1990, the game had to be decided by a penalty shootout. And just like six years prior, it was the Germans who prevailed. The first 10 penalties were all successful but Gareth Southgate saw his poorly hit penalty saved. Andreas Möller scored his to send Germany into another major final.

2000: Yugoslavia 3-4 Spain

Described by the Guardian newspaper as ‘One of the best games of football you’re ever likely to see. A brilliant, brilliant match”, Spain came back to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Spanish were one of the pre-tournament favourites and late in this game, they looked down at out. Five goals had been shared as the 90th minute came and went. Yugoslavia were 3-2 up and looking comfortable. Spain on the other hand were staring at failure to qualify for the knockout stages.

In the 94th minute, Spain were awarded a penalty which Gaizka Mendieta converted. A win was needed and despite drawing level, time was ticking away and seemingly taking any hope with it. However, just moments later, striker Alfonso Pérez volleyed in the game’s seventh goal to complete a remarkable comeback.


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