Top 5 best games of football at the Euro finals

14th September 2021

Greatest games at the Euros

The Euros were supposed to get underway this month, but the competition has been pushed back a year to June 2021 – although, bizarrely, it will still keep its original name.

Next summer’s “Euro 2020” finals will be the 16th edition of the tournament, with 24 teams taking part for the second time.

The competition has grown significantly since it was first staged in 1960, when only four nations were involved in the finals.

There may be no live international matches to enjoy this month, but you can relive some classic games from tournaments gone by with our pick of five classic Euros matches.

France 3-2 Portugal (Euro 1984)

With three trophies apiece, Germany and Spain are the most successful nations in the history of the Euros.

France have triumphed on just one occasion, but can lay claim to having been involved in more entertaining encounters than any of their continental competitors.

Arguably the greatest game the Euros has ever seen came when Les Bleus claimed the prize in 1984. They sealed the deal with a 2-0 defeat of Spain in the Paris showpiece, but it was the semi-final against Portugal that brought the real drama.

The first half was rather uneventful save for Jean-Francois Domergue’s opener midway through it.

Portugal pushed for an equaliser after the break and were eventually rewarded in the 74th minute, Sporting Lisbon striker Jordao heading home his first of the tournament.

There were no more goals in the regulation 90, but plenty on the way in extra time. First, Jordao put Portugal in front in the 104th minute, before Domergue notched his second of the evening to restore parity.

That left the stage clear for Michel Platini, both the Golden Boot winner and player of the tournament, to send France through to the final with a minute left to play.

Jean Tigana broke into the box and pulled the ball back for his teammate, who made no mistake from seven yards.

West Germany 1-2 Netherlands (Euro 1988)

The previous time West Germany hosted an international tournament, they beat The Netherlands in the 1974 World Cup final.

That was a huge upset at the time, with Johan Cruyff and co having dazzled on route to that showdown with their chief rivals.

Holland got their revenge 14 years later when the European Championship came to West Germany for the first time.

They had not exactly set the world alight in the group stage, losing to the Soviet Union and only narrowly beating the Republic of Ireland to book a place in the semi-finals.

West Germany took the lead in the 55th minute, with Lothar Matthaus making no mistake from the penalty spot. Ronald Koeman then converted a spot-kick to level the scores later in the second half.

It fell to Marco van Basten – who would go on to score the greatest goal in Euros history in The Netherlands’ 2-0 defeat of the Soviet Union in the final – to net the winner late on.

Portugal 0-1 Greece (Euro 2004 final)

If this list of greatest Euros games was determined only by how exciting the match in question was, then the 2004 final wouldn’t make the cut.

Greece’s 1-0 victory over hosts Portugal was undoubtedly one of the most significant encounters in the history of the European Championship. The Greeks finished the tournament as they had started it – by beating the home favourites.

Most onlookers interpreted their first defeat of Portugal as a one-off, but Otto Rehhagel’s men battled their way past France (the holders) and Czech Republic (the best attacking team at the tournament) to reach the final.

Man-marking in defence and set-piece prowess served Greece well throughout Euro 2004, so it was no surprise that their winning goal against Portugal was an Angelos Charisteas header from a corner.

The underdogs successfully shutout the hosts thereafter, keeping their third consecutive clean sheet of the knockout stage. Against all odds, Greece were champions of Europe.

France 4-5 Yugoslavia (1960 European Nations Cup)

The Euros began with a bang in Paris on 6 July 1960. In the opening game of the tournament’s maiden edition, France and Yugoslavia shared nine goals in front of 26,370 fans at the Parc des Princes.

Les Bleus had comfortably overcome Greece and Austria in the two qualifying rounds to reach the four-team finals, while Yugoslavia had impressively dispatched Bulgaria and Portugal.

It was they who drew first blood in this semi-final, with Milan Galic finding the net in the 11th minute.

France pulled level through Jean Vincent almost instantly, and then took the lead when Francois Heutte struck just before the interval.

Maryan Wisniewski made it 3-1 soon after the restart and, although Yugoslavia quickly pegged the hosts back through Ante Zanetic, Heutte was on hand to re-establish Les Bleus’ two-goal advantage.

Yugoslavia were not prepared to give up that easily, though, and an astonishing flurry brought them three goals in four minutes.

France were shell-shocked and could not muster up a response, with Yugoslavia advancing to a final that they would narrowly lose to the Soviet Union.

France 2-1 Italy AET (Euro 2000 final)

Yugoslavia and Spain played out the most thrilling contest of Euro 2000, the latter scoring twice in second-half stoppage time to emerge victorious from their final Group C encounter.

However, the final between France and Italy wins out given the quality on display and the significantly higher stakes involved.

World Cup winners France were favourites, but a dogged Italy side could not be written off – particularly after their unlikely penalty shoot-out defeat of The Netherlands in the semis.

They almost shocked the French in the final too. Marco Delvecchio gave the Azzurri the lead in the 55th minute with a neat volleyed finish.

Italy remained 1-0 up until Sylvain Wiltord’s dramatic equaliser in the third minute of injury time.

With the Golden Goal rule in place, both teams knew that an extra-time strike would win them the title.

The law was ultimately scrapped because it tended to promote cautious play, but les Bleus were rewarded for their attacking endeavour here.

David Trezeguet was the hero for Roger Lemerre’s side, smashing the ball past Francesco Toldo to give France the trophy.

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