Top Five Matches From Euro 96 to Rewatch During Quarantine
With the footballing world brought to a standstill, many fans have gone back through the archives to watch old matches. One of the most competitive European Championships of all-time came in the summer of 1996, and there was drama, enthralling action and in the end, heartbreak for the host nation. But, which games from that competition should all football fans watch?
Germany 2-1 Croatia
Old Trafford played host to an intriguing quarterfinal tie between Croatia and Germany. The Germans were the favourites heading into the competition, while Croatia were one of the sides that were an unknown quantity after reaching the competition finals for the first time. Croatia impressed in the group stages by finishing second, but they were still given no chance of making the semi-finals.
Their chances looked even bleaker after Jurgen Kingsmann put the Germans ahead after 20 minutes. However, they hit back six minutes into the second half through Hakan Suker. It would ultimately be devastation for Croatia as they would concede against eight minutes later as Mattias Sammer would score the match-winning goal.
Russia 3-3 Czech Republic
From a neutral’s point of view, there wasn’t any game better than the final group fixture clash between the Czech Republic and Russia. The game was as frantic as they come, with Czech’s legendary golden generation just about scrapping through, courtesy of an 88th-minute leveller from Vladimir Smicer. The draw meant that Italy missed out on progressing. The Czech Republic seemed to have been comfortable in the game after racing into a 2-0 lead, but Russia stunned the fancied Czech’s by scoring three unanswered goals. Fortunately, Smicer’s goal meant that they were able to progress.
England 4-1 Netherlands
The quality of an international competition is certainly improved when the hopes of the host nation are as high as they can be. And after this explosive England win at Wembley, the host nation really thought football was coming home. It remains one of the best England performances in EURO history, with Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer both scoring a brace. When you consider the Dutch had players such as Clarence Seedorf and Dennis Bergkamp within their ranks, you would be aware that England would need to be at the top of their game.
Scotland 0-2 England
When the group stages were drawn, all eyes were immediately on one fixture at EURO 96; England vs Scotland. The two bitter rivals would play out one of the most hotly contested fixtures at the competition, with arguably one of the greatest goals in international football settling the game for England. Shearer put England ahead in the game, but it was Paul Gascoigne who got all the attention. His solo effort to score England’s second saw him flick the ball over the head of the oncoming Scottish defender, before hitting the volley in the bottom left-hand corner.
Germany 1-1 England (Germany win 6-5 on penalties)
There had been a sense from an early stage in the competition that England and Germany were always going to meet at the semi-final stage. While it may not have been the most entertaining games, it more than made up for that with the atmosphere and drama that ensued. England started strongly and went ahead within three minutes as Shearer dared England to dream of a first major final since 1966. However, Stefan Kuntz scored 13 minutes later to bring the Three Lions back to earth.
Both sides had chances in the extra period, with Gascoigne coming within inches of booking England’s final place. Penalties were needed to separate the great rivals. The first ten penalties were scored, which meant that the shootout went to sudden death. Germany would book their place in the final after current England boss Gareth Southgate saw his penalty saved by Andreas Kopke.