An intriguing group stage contained only a few major shock results at Euro 2020, but the business end of the tournament is now on the way as the round of 16 begins. We have delved into the history books to pick out some of the most memorable matches from the knockout stages in Euros past. Hopefully this year’s tournament will be able to come up with crackers like this little lot. So, without further ado, here are the best European Championship knockout games of all time.
4 best European Championship knockout games ever
Euro 1984: France 3-2 Portugal (AET)
Michel Platini stamped his name all over the 1984 tournament with the France legend landing the knockout blow in this thrilling semi-final defeat of Portugal, which went to extra time.
A deflected Jean-Francois Domergue free-kick put France ahead in Marseille but, despite Platini running the game for Les Bleus, it was Portugal who would strike next. Rui Jordao headed home a clever dinked cross for his first goal of the tournament to make it 1-1 and Manuel Bento’s brilliant double save denied Platini and Didier Six to keep Portugal level.
That forced extra time and Portugal nudged ahead when Jordao found space at the back post to volley in. The goal was fortuitous as Jordao hit the ball into the ground, but France were behind. Platini refused to let France’s dream die on home soil, however, and as he tried to wriggle clear in the box the ball popped up for Domergue to slam home the equaliser.
Penalties seemed to be looming but one of the best European Championship knockout games was settled by Platini, who hammered in from six yards out to send France into the final, where they would beat Spain 2-0.
Euro 2004: Portugal 2-2 England (6-5 on penalties)
England’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’ crashed out in heartbreaking circumstances as Portugal won this quarter-final in Lisbon on penalties.
Michael Owen had put England ahead in just the third minute, capitalising on Costinha’s mistake to flick the ball in, but after the Three Lions crucially lost key attacker Wayne Rooney to injury the unmarked substitute Helder Postiga headed home to level the scores.
Nevertheless, England thought they had booked a semi-final berth in the dying moments of the initial 90 minutes. David Beckham’s left-wing free-kick was headed on to the crossbar by Owen and Sol Campbell rose highest to nod in the rebound, but the goal was disallowed for a soft foul.
Rui Costa’s sensational 20-yard piledriver made it 2-1 in extra time yet the clash would be decided on sudden death in a shootout after Frank Lampard turned home from close range.
Beckham lost his footing to blaze his kick over the crossbar but Costa’s failure to score meant it was 5-5 after six kicks each. Ricardo then denied Darius Vassell – who had replaced Rooney – and the goalkeeper himself stepped up to convert the winning kick for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side.
It was heartache for England but, to the neatral, this was one of the best European Championship knockout games ever.
Euro 2008:Germany 3-2 Turkey
Germany had already set pulses racing with a 3-2 win over Portugal in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 and they won again by the same scoreline in the last four to book their place in the final.
Surprise package Turkey took the lead against the odds, Ugur Boral scruffily converting a rebound, but the lead was short-lived with Bastian Schweinsteiger flicking in a left-wing Lukas Podolski cross. With 11 minutes to go, Miroslav Klose then seemed to have won it for Germany when the striker headed into an open goal after Rustu Recber came for a cross and missed it.
Turkey would not give up, though, with Semih Senturk squeezing home at the near post only for Philipp Lahm to ghost into the box to thump in a glorious last-minute winner. A real thriller.
Euro 2016: Wales 3-1 Belgium
The last European Championship saw Wales win fans across the continent in their run to the semi-finals, the highlight of which was a brilliant victory over a hotly-tipped Belgium side.
Chris Coleman’s men had to come from behind in Lille too, with Radja Nainggolan’s 25-yarder having seemingly put Belgium on track for an expected victory.
Wales had other ideas, however, as Ashley Williams nodded in a corner to level it up. Free agent striker Hal Robson-Kanu then scored one of the best goals in European Championship history, leaving a trio of defenders in his wake with a superb turn before finishing equally well.
With Belgium pressing for an equaliser, substitute Sam Vokes headed home to secure the most famous result Wales have ever enjoyed. Wales would then fall short against Portugal in the semis, but their historic run to the last four will live in their memories forever.
One of the best European Championship knockout games ever and one of the
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