Stunning Soccer Moments in European Championship History


The 16th European Championship, UEFA Euro 2020, is lastly about to start out, having been delayed till this yr due to the pandemic.

The soccer match, held each 4 years, started as a four-team occasion in 1960, received by the Soviet Union, and was hosted by one or at most two nations. But it has since grown. This yr’s occasion, from Friday to July 11, might be a 24-team Pan-European extravaganza, with 11 host nations staging matches.

Six teams of 4 groups will play a round-robin format, with group winners, runners-up and the 4 third-place groups with one of the best information advancing to the single-elimination rounds. Baku, Azerbaijan; Munich; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Rome will host the quarterfinals; the semifinals and the championship recreation are set for Wembley Stadium in London.

And followers might be in the stands. Except for Budapest’s Puskas Arena, which is able to enable full homes, stadiums will fill solely 25 p.c to 50 p.c of their capability.

Dreamed up by Henri Delaunay, the primary head of European soccer’s governing physique, UEFA, the European Championship is second in reputation and status to solely the World Cup.

The final UEFA championship, held in 2016, was received by Portugal, regardless that its star, Cristiano Ronaldo, left the sport early with an damage. Here are a handful of the match’s most memorable moments.

The Netherlands, the “nearly team” of world soccer, won its first and only title with a 2-Zero victory over the Soviet Union in Munich. In the 32nd minute of the ultimate match, the Dutch captain Ruud Gullit took benefit of a poorly cleared nook to move in the return ball. Later, on the different finish, goalkeeper Hans van Breukelen gave away after which saved a penalty from Igor Belanov. Both performs have been very important however finally have been overshadowed by Gullit’s goal.

In the 54th minute, midfielder Arnold Muhren lofted a excessive cross from the left, just a few yards outdoors the Soviet penalty space. Marco van Basten, stage with Muhren when the go was made, strode down the far proper aspect of the world, met the ball in midair, and swung in a depraved volley from an acute angle that flew over Rinat Dasayev (one of many recreation’s higher keepers) into the far nook for the second aim.

The recreation was successfully over on the level, however the stadium didn’t cease buzzing as a result of a aim like that’s uncommon, particularly in a remaining. It was masterful approach, timing and ability, from the burden and arc of Muhren’s go, to van Basten’s run and audacious end. The ball didn’t hit the bottom from the second it left Muhren’s foot till it was pulled out of the web. Rinus Michels, the Dutch coach, lined his eyes in disbelief.

Sweden hosted Euro ’92 with the slogan “Small Is Beautiful.” The match additionally had a fairy story ending. After Yugoslavia was expelled from the competitors in the spring due to an escalating civil conflict, Denmark was a late addition. The squad wasn’t fairly scooped off the seaside, however not too far off.

The Danes weren’t a ragtag gang, although. They had a smattering of journeymen from the Bundesliga and goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, in his first yr with Manchester United.

Denmark’s marketing campaign sparked to life with a late 2-1 win over France that put it in the semifinals in opposition to the defending champion, the Netherlands. The Danes received, 5-4, on penalties.

Having disbursed with the European champion, Denmark confronted the reigning world champion, a reunified Germany (now with added East Germans). Predictably, Germany dominated early, however unpredictably John Jensen gave the Danes the lead. Jensen, for whom self-belief and ambition trumped approach, often had his pictures clear not solely the aim, but additionally the operating monitor and several other rows of seats. Not this time. He hit the roof of the German web with a decisive wallop.

Denmark defended capably, and Schmeichel rescued the crew when it didn’t. After Kim Vilfort added an insurance coverage aim, the Danish followers sang, “Deutschland, Deutschland, Alles ist vorbei” (“Germany, Germany, it’s all over”).

Small might need been stunning, however Euro ’92 was the final eight-team match. Four years later in England, the sector doubled. And Jensen? He headed to England too, and continued to shoot wildly from distance, discovering the web solely as soon as in 138 league appearances for Arsenal.

Billed as a return to the sport’s religious roots, Euro ’96 was in England. “Football’s Coming Home” was the mantra featured in the tune “Three Lions.”

And certainly, the English notched a 4-1 win over the Dutch and beat Spain, with penalty kicks.

But the semifinal introduced an enormous obstacle: Germany. England performed nicely, however so did Germany. Stefan Kuntz of Germany tied the rating after Alan Shearer’s early aim for England. Sure sufficient, the tie resulted in a shootout. Each crew scored 5 occasions. Gareth Southgate of England then hit a weak shot that was saved. Amid the overall sympathy for Southgate afterward was a notable dissent: from his mom, Barbara. “Why didn’t you just belt it?” she stated.

Andreas Möller smashed dwelling Germany’s winner, then stood defiantly, fingers on hips.

Germany won its third title with what is named a golden aim (in sudden-death additional time), beating the Czech Republic, 2-1. Both targets got here from the substitute Oliver Bierhoff, the primary a well-directed downward header, the second a low shot that hit off the hand of keeper Petr Kouba and rolled in off the put up. It delivered to thoughts the dictum of the previous England striker Gary Lineker:

“Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

France’s feel-good dwelling World Cup win in 1998 was hailed as a multicultural phenomenon, Parisian sidewalks spilling over with followers shouting, “Black, Blanc, Beur,” referring to the crew’s Black, white and North African gamers. On the sector, defenders received the large targets (Lilian Thuram and Laurent Blanc), and France received with out actually clicking; not till the ultimate did Zinedine Zidane discover his footing.

Fast-forward two years, and the crew had blossomed into stunning worldbeaters. Thierry Henry was a star striker, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Didier Deschamps powered the midfield, and Zizou, as Zidane is thought, did every thing else. He was merely at the top of his game. The power and acceleration, the shut management, the feather-light contact, the flexibility to choose up a ball and gracefully drag opponents throughout a area, then shake them off and craft the right go — he was peerless.

In the semifinal against Portugal, he was tirelessly creative. When a transfer broke down, he demanded the ball and tried one thing new. And he carried his crew into the ultimate with a coolly taken golden-goal penalty.

Zidane’s self-belief infused his teammates. Even after they trailed Italy in the ultimate, the French regarded as if they might discover a solution to win. Sylvain Wiltord’s late equalizer disheartened Italy and emboldened France. Then David Trezeguet’s advantageous volley in the 103rd minute confirmed what everybody knew: France was one of the best in Europe and world champion, and its midfield maestro was on one other planet.

He has received a ton of trophies along with his golf equipment, however worldwide success has all the time eluded Cristiano Ronaldo.

At 19, he cried uncontrollably as Greece ruined Portugal’s occasion when it hosted the match in 2004. In 2012, he was an unused penalty taker in a semifinal loss to Spain.

In 2016, he was in a temper, seizing a tv microphone throughout a crew stroll and flinging it into a close-by lake. But Portugal squeaked into the elimination rounds, defeating Croatia, Poland and Wales to get to the ultimate — in opposition to the hotly favored host nation, France.

The groups emerged to a carpet of moths, drawn by the Stade de France lights. It didn’t take lengthy to finish Ronaldo’s night time. An ugly collision with Dimitri Payet in the eighth minute left him writhing in ache. He returned along with his leg bandaged however collapsed and was carried off.

Then the world noticed a different Ronaldo. He prowled the sideline, cursed, cheered, shadowed Coach Fernando Santos, barked directions at his teammates and roared them on, a limping amalgam of coach and superfan. The TV cameras lapped it up.

And when Eder scored the winner 20 minutes into additional time, Ronaldo celebrated like the opposite Portuguese spectators.

Often derided as a one-man crew, Portugal had completed the unthinkable: profitable with out its talisman.

Greece’s 2004 triumph was an enormous upset. Make {that a} collection of upsets, because the Greeks twice defeated France, the host nation and reigning champion, and beat Euro 2004’s finest crew, the Czech Republic, en path to its first worldwide title.

A nation that had by no means received a single recreation at a serious match, Greece was thought to be a mushy contact and routinely troubled by indiscipline and infighting. But it was remodeled by the veteran German coach Otto Rehhagel.

“King Otto” instilled group, self-discipline and a robust work ethic. The crew received ugly, but it surely was a nightmare to play in opposition to. Nothing gave the Greeks extra pleasure than watching the air drain out of puffed-up opponents. Faced with banks of blue and white jerseys, harried in the midfield and with devoted defenders stalking their attackers, different groups have been decreased to disaffected spectators.

Although Greek scoring probabilities have been uncommon, the crew excelled at the simplest instrument of the underdog’s arsenal: the set piece, profitable the semifinal and remaining with headers from nook kicks. In the semifinal, the Greeks took advantage of a silver goal (a type of sudden dying that allowed an opponent the rest of an additional time interval to tie the rating). Traianos Dellas ghosted between a pair of Czech defenders to move dwelling a nook on the finish of the primary 15-minute additional time.

“I realized when we were given the corner that exactly 14 minutes 36 seconds of overtime had been played,” Dellas stated. “I said to myself that now we must do it. Someone heard me.”

For the Russia midfielder Andrei Arshavin, Euro 2008 started with a two-game suspension for violent conduct in a qualifier. Guus Hiddink, Russia’s Dutch coach with a fame for creating overachieving nationwide groups (most not too long ago South Korea and Australia), noticed one thing particular in Arshavin, who resembled a cartoon throwback to a different period: a bowl haircut, rosy cheeks and uniforms that regarded like an enormous brother’s hand-me-downs.

But what talent. He had a low heart of gravity, magnetic ball management, a rocket of a shot and a willingness to strive something.

Arshavin scored in a 2-Zero win over Sweden to safe a quarterfinal matchup with the Netherlands, one in every of Hiddink’s former employers.

“When I’m a traitor, I like to be a very good traitor,” Hiddink stated earlier than the sport. “I want to be the traitor of the year in Holland.”

A late Ruud van Nistelrooy aim for the Netherlands despatched the sport into additional time at 1-1. Then Arshavin popped up in spectacular fashion. First, he tore down the left flank to the endline, turned and sublimely chipped his defender, giving Dmitri Torbinski the ball to back-heel into the web. Then Arshavin settled issues with a low drive that nutmegged keeper Edwin van der Sar. Arshavin gave a comical shrug for the digicam, earlier than urgent an index finger to his lips.

Russia lost its semifinal, 3-0, to the eventual champion, Spain, which had a stockpile of midfield tyros of its personal. That winter, Arshavin moved from Zenit St. Petersburg to England, treating followers to occasional brilliance earlier than he light and headed dwelling, the place he made headlines exiting a strip club on horseback.

The 1976 European Championship was the final to have solely 4 groups — and the primary selected a penalty shootout.

West Germany and Czechoslovakia have been deadlocked after 120 minutes. The Czechs went forward, 4-3, in penalty kicks when Uli Hoeness fired his shot over the bar. Enter Antonin Panenka. He made an extended run-up and goalie Sepp Maier dedicated early; what adopted has been variously described as a spoon, a shovel, a slice, a chip or a gently lofted shot that floated over the road and plopped into the again of the web. These days, followers merely name it a Panenka. Czechoslovakia received the match.

Panenka hadn’t had a sudden inspiration. He had been practising his specialty throughout coaching periods along with his goalkeeper, in line with Ben Lyttleton’s book and blog, “Twelve Yards.”

“My run-up was always longer to gain a bit of extra time, and faster so the goalkeeper doesn’t have a chance to change direction,” Panenka advised Lyttleton. “The shot should not be too fast; you have to chip the ball so it glides.

“I always tried to entertain fans, to do something unexpected so they could talk about it after matches,” he stated. “And all my goals, all my assists and passes have been forgotten because of this penalty. So, I am obviously proud of the penalty, but also a little bit sorry, too.”



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