5 Best Knockout Matches in European Championship History


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Euro 2008: Germany 3-2 Turkey

A last-minute goal from Phillip Lahm broke Turkish hearts and sent Germany through to the Euro 2008 final in one of the best games of Euro 2008.

Six years earlier Turkey, under the tutelage of veteran coach, Şenol Güneş, had shocked the world as they made it to their maiden World Cup semi-finals, yet little was expected of the Turks in 2008. Finishing as runners-up in the group to a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portugal, Turkey saw off Croatia in the quarter-finals, before facing Germany in the last four.

Taking the lead through Fenerbahçe full-back, Uğur Boral after just 20 minutes, Turkey were pegged back moments after and fell behind late in the second half. Seemingly beaten, Semih Şentürk squeezed the ball past Jens Lehmann four minutes from the time and the tie was destined for extra time.

Darting forward in the depths of added time, Lahm finished calmly under pressure to set up a first European Championships final since 1996 for the three-time winners. Ultimately it was a step too far for Joachim Löw in his first.

Euro 2016: Wales 3-1 Belgium

A spirited Welsh side came from behind to send a star-studded Belgium squad home in the quarter-finals stage of Euro 2016 in what is Wales' most memorable tournament in history.

Having topped a group containing Roy Hodgson’s England, they were led by Chris Coleman, who saw off another home nation, Northern Ireland, in the round of 16, setting up a tie with the Red Devils in the last eight. It looked as if Wales’ maiden European Championships were coming to an end, as Radja Nainggolan rocketed an effort from 25-yards into the top corner.

However, goals either side of half-time, including the now-iconic turn and finish from Hal Robson-Kanu, turned the tie on its head. Sam Vokes would thump in a sensational header to give Wales a 3-1 lead against all the odds.

Ultimately for the Dragons, their journey would end in the semi-final, losing 2-0 to eventual winners Portugal.

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Euro 2004: Portugal 2-2 England (pens 6-5)

Former Leicester City goalkeeper, Ricardo, scored the winning penalty as host nation, Portugal, saw off England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004.

Having stormed to an early lead courtesy of an audacious Michael Owen flick, England lead for 80 minutes of the match, before Hélder Postiga levelled it for the hosts with seven minutes to play. The Three Lions thought they had won the match in added time, yet Sol Campbell was adjudged to have pushed the Portuguese defender before heading home.

In a high-octane fixture, the drama didn’t subsidise, instead, it intensified with Portugal taking the lead in the second period of extra time. Rui Costa’s wonder strike was cancelled out five minutes later, as Frank Lampard levelled sending the match to a penalty shootout.

A surprise pick to take the seventh penalty, Ricardo strolled up to the ball whilst taking off his goalkeeping gloves and his strike turned out to be the one that sent Portugal into their third European Championship semi-finals. History repeated itself two years later, as Sven-Göran Eriksson’s men once again succumbed to Portugal on penalties in the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals.

Euro 2000: France 2-1 Portugal

A Zinedine Zidane penalty in extra-time gave France a golden goal victory over Portugal at the Euro 2000 semi-final being played in Brussels.

Having come from behind during the 90 minutes to take the game to extra-time, a penalty shootout awaited Portugal and France. With less than five to play, a David Trezeguet shot was blocked on the line by the arm of Portuguese full-back, Abel Xavier, giving Les Bleus the chance to steal the victory.

Converting with ease past Vítor Baía, Zidane wheeled away in celebration knowing his goal had just sent his country to their first European Championship final since 1984. France would go onto win the tournament with another golden goal, this time, against Italy in Rotterdam as Trezeguet hit home.

As for Zidane himself, the 1998 Ballon d’Or winner was awarded the Player of the Tournament award for his performances in a triumphant Euro 2000.

Euro 1992: Netherlands 2-2 Denmark (pens 4-5)

An unlikely inclusion into the tournament itself, underdogs Denmark stunned the reigning European Champions in the semi-final of Euro 1992 when the Dane's, technically speaking, never even qualified.

Having escaped a group containing both France and England, a plucky Danish side managed by Richard Møller Nielsen were matched against the Netherlands in the last four of the competition. Leading 2-1 at half-time through a Henrik Larsen double, it looked as if the Danish fairy-tale had one last chapter to write, yet 1992 Serie A Footballer of the Year, Frank Rijkaard had other ideas.

Prodding home from a corner in the 86th minute, the AC Milan midfielder pushed the match into extra time and salvaged the Dutch’s hopes of back-to-back European Championships.

Managing to resist the Dutch onslaught, Denmark held out for penalties, in which they converted all five of their spot kicks. A side captained by Lars Olsen and spearheaded by superstar forward Brian Laudrup went onto shock yet another European giant, beating Germany 2-0 in the final.

By Amos Murphy


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