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
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.