Friday, 14 October 2011

The European Championships top 10 matches

1) Portugal 0 Greece 1
Definitely the most memorable for the shock value, if not the games quality. Greece stunned Portugal on the opening day of the Euro 2004 tournament and after knocking out the holders France 1-0 in the quarter final and the favourites Czech Republic in the semi's by the same score, Greece had incredibly made the final. Otto Rehhagel's side had got to the final with superb defending, conceding just three goals all tournament.

The host nation Portugal had bounced back well from their opening day defeat and looked good in beating England and Holland in the knock out stages. Luiz Felipe Scolari's side were huge favourites coming into the game, however a Greek defence marshalled superbly by Traianos Dellas kept the hosts at bay. Incredibly Angelos Charisteas headed home to give Greece a surprise lead, which they held onto to record the greatest shock in European football history.

Captain Theodoros Zagorakis was voted the man of the tournament

2) France 2 Italy 1
The Euro 2000 final saw the World Champions France face Dino Zoff's Italy and the final itself was probably the best in the tournament's history as David Trezeguet stunned Italy with a golden goal winner in the 103rd minute.

France made the final after beating Spain 2-1 courtesy of a Zinedine Zidane free-kick and a Youri Djorkaeff smash, as well as a controversial 2-1 semi-final win over Portugal as a late extra time penalty from Zidane edges them through. Italy were too strong for Romania in the quarters and in the semi's they were fortunate as Holland missed two penalties in normal time as well as three in the shoot-out as Italy went through.

The final was a classic and Marco Delvecchio gave Italy a deserved lead which should have been doubled, however Fabien Barthez got the better of Alessandro Del Piero twice. With the game coming to its conclusion, Sylvain Wiltord equalised beating Francesco Toldo, who had performed brilliantly up to this point. Two substitutes combined to get the golden goal as Robert Pires did brilliantly to find Trezeguet whose finish was sublime on the half volley to stun Italy.

3) Yugoslavia 3 Spain 4
Quite simply an incredible match. Spain scored two goals in injury time to avoid a group stage elimination.

Savo Milosevic headed home from a Ljubinko Drulović cross to give Yugoslavia a lead against the run of play. Raul's persistence engineered a chance for Alfonso who curled home a leveller to make it 1-1 in the first half. Dejan Govedarica curled home a fantastic second for Yugoslavia early in the second half, only for the Spanish sub Ivan Muntis to make it 2-2 just a minute later.

With the game heading into its final 20 minutes Slavisa Jokanovic then saw his marching orders as Yugoslavia were reduced to ten men. Incredibly the ten men took the lead as defender Slobodan Komljenović poked home a close range effort to give Yugoslavia a third lead. Gaizka Mendita converted a penalty to make it 3-3 in stoppage time, meaning Spain still needed a fourth to progress.

A long ball from Ivan Helguera caused havoc in the penalty box as the ball bounced for Alfonso who smashed it superbly with his left foot to beat Marko Simeunovič for an amazing 4-3 win, which in the end saw both sides qualify from the group.

4) France 3 Portugal 2
The greatest semi-final match of them all saw France stun Portugal late on in extra time as Michel Platini scored a 119th minute winner.

Jean-François Domergue opened the scoring after 24 minutes with a smashed free kick. Rui Jordão levelled in the 74th minute with a free header. The goal sent the game to over-time which saw the real drama.

Jordão gave the Portuguese a surprise lead in the 98th minute, with an incredible half volley at the back post, which looked set to knock the hosts and favourites out. Nene then missed a great chance to make it 3-1 and the miss was punished heavily.

Domergue smashed home a simple chance in the 114th minute to make it 2-2 which looked set to send the game to penalties, only for the tournaments top scorer Platini to seal a stunning win late on. Jean Tigana did superbly well and found the Juventus man who smashed home from six yards to score his eight of an incredible tournament.

France went on to beat Spain 2-0 in the final.

5) Holland 2 Czech Republic 3
Another amazing group stage game took place at Euro 2004 as the Czech Republic came from two down to stun Holland.

Wilfred Bouma headed home after just four minutes after Arjen Robben's brilliant free kick delivery found the Aston Villa defender at the back post to open the scoring. Holland scored a second in the 19th minute as Robben squared for Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who despite being offside in the pass for Robben from Edgar Davids, tapped home.

Milan Baros did superbly to find Jan Koller who tapped home with an easy chance to half the deficit. Davids nearly made it 3-1, however his long range effort beat Petr Cech only to bounce back of the post and out of play. Edwin Van Der Sar made a fantastic save to preserve the Dutch's lead from Vladimir Smicer's close range effort.

Baros levelled for the Czech Republic after 70 minutes after Pavel Nedved's cross was brilliantly flicked in the direction of Baros by Koller, who smashed home brilliantly. The Dutch not only lost their lead but lost a man as Jonny Hetinga was given a second yellow card. Nedved's was unlucky to see his long range effort hit the bar after a fantastic effort from the European player of the year.

Smicer turned the game around after Heinz's long range effort was parried by Van Der Sar and Karel Poborsky unselfishly squared the ball for the former Liverpool man to tap home.

Nedved inspired the Czech's to an incredible win

6) Denmark 2 Germany 0
Denmark were the Greece of 1992 as they won they won the European Championships despite not originally qualifying for the tournament. Denmark took the place of Yugoslavia who were disqualified from the tournament.

Denmark beat the holders Holland in the semi-final on a penalty shoot-out whilst Germany edged out the hosts Sweden 3-2.

Germany were huge favourites going into the game, however John Jensen smashed Denmark in front early on. Jurgen Klinsmann were superbly thwarted by Peter Schmeichel in the Denmark goal.

Despite German possession and chances, Schmeichel frequently kept the World Champions at bay. Denmark then late on stunned the Germans with a second as Kim Vilfort made it two in the 79th minute to stun the footballing world.

7) Holland 2 USSR 0
Silverware had alluded the great Dutch sides of 1974 and 78, however a Ruud Gullit lead side made up for previous failures as Holland finally tasted success.

Holland had beaten the hosts and rivals West Germany 2-1 in the semi finals as Marco Van Basten struck late on, whilst the Soviet Union beat Italy 2-0 in their semi.

The two clubs had already met in the group stage with the USSR coming out victors 1-0 thanks to a goal from Vasyl Rats, however the final would be a different story.

Captain Gullit gave the Dutch a deserved lead as the then worlds most expensive player headed home unmarked.

The game's real talking point occurred early in the second half, as the injury plagued Van Basten scored one of the goals of all time. Arnold Muhren's cross wasn't the best however the then AC Milan forward volleyed home from a quite incredible angle to double the lead and seal the title for the Dutch.

8) England 1 Germany 1
The Euro 1996 Championships were hosted by England and their semi-final against Germany was a classic.

England who had edged out Spain on penalties the round before opened the scoring early on through the tournaments top scorer Alan Shearer as he headed home from a Tony Adams flick on.

Stefan Kuntz levelled for the Germans on 16 minutes as the forward got to the ball before the left back Stuart Pearce.

The game went to extra time and it was England who went the closest as Darren Anderton hit the post after great work from Steve Mcmanaman. Paul Gascoigne was so close to touching home from a Alan Shearer smashed cross, however the ball narrowly avoids the stretched leg of the Rangers man.

The game went to penalties and after five successful attempts each saw Gareth Southgate penalty saved by Andreas Köpke, which meant if Andreas Möller scored then Germany progressed, which he did and Berti Vogtes' side went on the beat Czech Republic 2-1 in the final.

9) Czechoslavakia 2 Germany 2 (The Penalty chip)
The 1976 European Championship final was between Czechoslovakia and West Germany and after a thrilling 2-2 draw the game went to a penalty shoot out, which was won 5-3 by Czechoslovakia, with the winning penalty so confidently chipped by Antonín Panenka.

Czechoslovakia went 2-0 up after just 25 minutes with goals from Ján Švehlík and Karol Dobiaš, only for the West Germans to respond quickly to make it 2-1 through Dieter Müller. With the game nearly over West Germany equalised in dramatic style through Bernd Hölzenbein. The game went to penalties and after Uli Hoeneß's miss, Panenka stepped up to score the winner in such class fashion.

10) Turkey 3 Czech Republic 2
The game saw the real prospect of the first ever penalty shoot-out in a group stage match as both teams had the same points, goals scored, goals conceded coming into the match meaning a draw would've seen a penalty shoot out, however Turkey incredibly came from two down to win.

Jan Koller had headed home to give the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead heading into half time and that lead was doubled in the second half through Jaroslav Plasil.

Turkey got one back through Arda Turan and incredibly they were level shortly after as Nihat pounced on a Petr Cech mistake to make it 2-2. With their confidence high the Turks amazingly made it 3-2 again through Nihat with an amazing curling effort.

There was enough time for Turkey keeper Volkan Demirel to be show a red card for pushing Koller, meaning Tuncay Sanli played the final few minutes in goal. Turkey managed to hold on and went through at the Czech's expense.

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