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Three classic European Championship matches 

While the European Championship usually takes second place in the minds of most football supporters to the World Cup, the tournament has still produced more than its fair share of classic encounters. Whether it is games enlivened by individual brilliance, or ones that tore up the form book and left those gambling on the outcomes with sites like bwin tearing out their hair, these are three of the many classic games in the history of this tournament.

1988 – Holland v the USSR

Throughout their history the Dutch have produced individual players and teams of sublime talent, but somehow they have never quite been able to parlay this into success in major tournaments. The one time that they were able to get it all together was in 1988, when the side with Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten stormed to victory in that year’s Euros. The 2-0 win over the USSR was one of a number of memorable wins on the way, but was particularly notable for Van Basten’s volleyed goal from an impossible angle. It remains the best goal this writer has ever witnessed in this tournament.

1996 – England v Germany

True, not many English fans will enjoy being reminded of this, as the nation’s dream that the trophy could be won on home soil thirty years after they had achieved this feat with the World Cup, came to an end at the hands of Germany and a penalty shoot-out. Again. Nonetheless, for drama, disallowed goals, narrow misses and heartbreak, this match was certainly memorable.

2000 – Spain v Yugoslavia

With Spain requiring a win against Yugoslavia to progress beyond the group stages and then finding themselves 3-2 behind late in the game, it seemed like typical Spanish underachievement. However they turned the game on its head with two goals in injury time, to claim a 4-3 victory. Thus what happened at the Etihad stadium at the end of this season wasn’t entirely without precedent.

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