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10 Thrilling Last Minute Goals At The UEFA European Championship

Spain Maceda
Neelabhra Roy

The UEFA European Championship will witness its 15th edition in France 2016 as the host nation will try and once again lay their hands on the elusive trophy which they also won in 2000 after the 1998 World Cup win. In its 14 previous editions, the UEFA European Championship has had some nail biting encounters which were spiced up by goals in the dying seconds of the matchThese goals at the death have almost always carried a story with them as they built around a moment that breaks as many hearts simultaneously as it fills others with joy. The joy of supporting a team that rescues themselves with a last minute goal is one that most football fans are familiar with and the reverse is true as well.While doing it in a friendly or league match is a great feat in itself, but doing it during the European Championship carries a whole different significance given the added pressure and importance of the occasion. Here is a list of 10 of those exciting goals scored in the dying moments of the match at the UEFA European Championship.

#10 Antonio Maceda vs West Germany, Euro 1984 Group Stage

Spain Maceda

Spain had entered Euro 1984 as one of the tournament’s dark horses. They were placed in a tough group alongside a near invincible West German team who were the defending champions, Portugal, one of the rising forces in world football at that time, and Romania. The Spanish side boasted of some talented players like Luis Arconada, Camacho, Antonio Maceda and Santillana. However, Spain’s start to the tournament was not convincing as they were held to a 1-1 draw by underdogs Romania. In their next game, a 73rd minute equaliser by Santillana against Portugal kept Spain in the tournament.

In their final match against West Germany, a win would assure them of a semifinal berth. Both sides had plenty of chances throughout the match but none capitalised. West Germany hit the post twice and Spain squandered a penalty. With Portugal winning against Romania, Spain needed to win and in the 90th minute, a cross from Juan Antonio Senor found Antonio Maceda who headed the ball in the net and Spain won 1-0 and surprisingly, West Germany were out. Spain went on to reach the final where they were beaten by France.

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#9 Wim Kieft vs Ireland, Euro 1988 Group Stage

Wim Kieft Netherlands 1988 Euro

The Dutch easily qualified for Euro 1988 and were placed in a group consisting of Republic of Ireland, England and Soviet Union. The Netherlands had high expectations for Euro 1988 as they had a star-studded lineup that included the likes of Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten and Ronald Koeman. However, Netherlands began their tournament poorly, losing their opener against the Soviet Union 1-0. The Dutch bounced back in their next game and beat England 3-1 courtesy of a van Basten hattrick.

In their final group game, Netherlands had to beat Republic of Ireland, one of the tournament’s surprise packages. For them, a draw would salvage them a spot in the semifinals. The match was goalless for most of the time until the 82nd minute.

A shot by Ronald Koeman found the head of Wim Kieft whose glancing header bounced past Irish goalkeeper Packie Bonner. It turned out to be the winner and Ireland were out. Netherlands qualified for the semifinals and Kieft’s goal turned out to be a priceless one as The Oranje won Euro 1988.

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#8 Mattias Jonsson vs Denmark, Euro 2004 Group Stage

Mattias Jonsson Sweden goal

Sweden came into Euro 2004 at Portugal with low expectations as they were drawn in a group alongside Italy, one of the title contenders, Denmark and Bulgaria. The Swedish side had some quality players including Henrik Larsson, Fredrik Ljungberg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anders Svensson and Olof Mellberg.

In their final group game against Denmark, a draw for Sweden or Denmark would qualify both of them provided Italy didn’t beat Bulgaria. It was Denmark who drew first blood when striker Jon Dahl Tomasson opened the scoring after 28 minutes. Sweden were awarded an early penalty in the second half and it was successfully converted by Henrik Larsson before Denmark restored the lead in the 66th minute.

With the match drawing to its end, Sweden were losing 2-1 and had a possibility of elimination at this point. Then, in the 89th minute, midfielder Mattias Jonsson scored the all-important equaliser and the match ended 2-2. This point gave Sweden first place in its group and they were into the quarter finals where they lost to Netherlands on penalties.

#7 Arda Turan vs Switzerland, Euro 2008 Group Stage

Arda Turan Euro 2008 Turkey

Turkey entered only their third European Championship in 2008 and were drawn in a group consisting of Euro 2004 runners-up Portugal, Euro 2004 semifinalists Czech Republic and co-hosts Switzerland. The Turks did not have very high expectations as many people were of the impression that Portugal and Czech Republic would be the favorites to progress to the quarter finals from this group. Turkey began the tournament poorly, losing their opening game against Portugal.

In their next game, Turkey faced co-hosts Switzerland who, like Turkey had lost their opening match to Czech Republic. The Swiss broke the deadlock after 32 minutes when Hakan Yakin scored to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead and Turkey were on the brink of elimination. However, 12 minutes in the second half a powerful header from substitute Semih Senturk brought Turkey back on level terms.

The match was looking to be a 1-1 draw with injury time almost coming to an end. It was at this very moment, when Turkey found their winner.A powerful right footed shot by youngster Arda Turan gave Turkey a brilliant 2-1 win and Switzerland were eliminated. Turkey eventually made it to the semifinals of Euro 2008 where their path was cut short by Germany.

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#6 IoanGanea vs England, Euro 2000 Group Stage

Ganea England Euro 2000

Expectations were not high for the Romanians at Euro 2000s as they were placed in a very difficult group that included England, defending champions Germany and Portugal. However, Romania pulled off a surprise 1-1 draw against Germany in their first match before losing 1-0 to Portugal courtesy of a late goal by Costinha. In their final group game against England, Romania would have to beat England as they did in the 1998 World Cup to progress to the quarter-finals whereas England needed just a draw to qualify.

Romania began well with left back Christian Chivu’s left footed cross eventually finding the net and Romania were 1-0 up. However, England equalised through a penalty from skipper Alan Shearer and four minutes later, Michael Owen dodged the Romanian goalkeeper and scored to give England the lead.

Later, some sloppy goalkeeping from England goalie Nigel Martyn paid its price as a weak punch of the ball by Martyn found Dorinel Minteanu who scored to put Romania back in the contest.

England were still going safe and were on the brink of entering the last eight when defender Phil Neville brought down Viorel Moldovan in the 89th minute and Romania were awarded a late penalty which was successfully converted by substitute Ionel Ganea. Romania won 3-2 and progressed whereas England were out.

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#5 Vladimir Smicer vs Russia, Euro 1996 Group Stage

Vladimir Smicer Czech

After the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1992, Euro 1996 was the first major tournament for the new Czech Republic side who had performed impressively in the qualifiers, topping their group above the Netherlands. However, the Czechs were seen as underdogs after they were drawn in a tough group consisting of Germany, Italy and Russia. Their opening game was a 2-0 defeat to Germany. However, the Czechs didn’t lose hope and in their next match, engineered one of the upsets of the tournament by beating Italy 2-1. In order to progress, Czech Republic needed at least a draw against Russia in their final group game and hope that Germany do not lose to Italy.

In their final group game, the Czechs began well scoring two goals within the opening 20 minutes by Jan Suchoparek and Pavel Kuka. However, Russia fought back and with goals from Alexandr Mostovoi, Omari Tetradze and Vladimir Beschastnykh were 3-2 up by the 85th minute.

With time running out, it seemed that Italy would be going through as in their match, the score was 0-0. The Czechs finally managed to get their long wanted equaliser. Young substitute Vladimir Smicer turned out to be Czech Republic’s saviour as he struck the all-important equaliser in the 88th minute. At the end of the final whistle, with Italy being held to a 0-0 draw by Germany and the Czechs ending their match with a 3-3 draw, Czech Republic progressed to the quarter finals on having scored more goals than Italy.

The Czechs eventually made it to the final where they lost to Germany. Vladimir Smicer along with other youngsters in this squad like Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky would go on to become the pillars of the national team few years later.

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#4 Semih Senturk vs Croatia, Euro 2008 quarter final

Turkey v Croatia Euro 2008

In the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, Turkey were up against Croatia who were now being seen as a favorite after they defeated Germany. Both sides were unable to score during regulation time and the match went to extra time. As the scoreline was looking to be 0-0 at the end of extra time as well, one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the European Championship.

In the 119th minute, a cross by Luca Modric found the head of Ivan Klasnic and Croatia were 1-0 up. Just two minutes later during injury time, Turkey goalkeeper Rustu took a long free kick which entered the Croatian penalty box and Semih Senturk equalised for Turkey although many people including Croatia coach Slaven Bilic were of the impression that the match had ended before Semih scored while the ball was in the air from the freekick.

Turkey went on to win the match 3-1 on penalties and were throigh to their maiden Euro semifinal where they would lose 3-2 to eventual runners-up Germany in another tight encounter.

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#3 Horst Hrubesch vs Belgium, Euro 1980 final

Horst Hrubesch West Germany 1980 Euro Final

West Germany were being considered one of the favourites coming into Euro 1980. The side had many talented players like Rainer Bonhof, Klaus Allofs, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bernar Dietz, Hansi Muller and Harald Schumacher. In the final, West Germany were up against the surprise package of the tournament, Belgium who had topped their group ahead of hosts Italy, England and Spain.

The Belgian side boasted of quality players like Jan Ceulemans, Eric Gerets, Julien Cools and goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff. The Germans took an early lead in the 10th minute when Horst Hrubesch scored the opener after driving a low ball past Belgian goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff. However, the resilient Belgium side didn’t give up and got their equaliser in the 75th from a successful penalty taken by Rene Vandereycken.

As the match looked on the brink of extra time, West Germany were given a corner in the 89th minute which found Hrubesch who headed in his and West Germany’s second goal. The match ended 2-1 and West Germany won their second European Championship.

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#2 Zinedine Zidane vs Portugal, Euro 2000 semifinal

France Zidane Penalty Portugal Euro 2000

Zinedine Zidane was at his absolute prime during the late 90s and early 2000s. It was during this time when he won France the 1998 World Cup, scoring two goals in the final against Brazil and won the FIFA World of the Player as well as the Ballon d’Or in 1998. During Euro 2000, Zidane would have another great hour on the international stage as France would lift their first European Championship after 16 years.

In the semifinals, France were up against Portugal who had not lost a single match in the tournament and had a side boasting of quality players like Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Fernando Couto, Vitor Baia and Nuno Gomes, who had been in scintillating form throughout the course of the tournament, scoring 3 goals and it was Nuno Gomes who gave Portugal the lead against France after only 19 minutes. France were in pursuit of an equaliser and got one in the 51st minute courtesy of their star striker Thierry Henry.

The match ended 1-1 in regulation time and went to extra time. In the final minutes of extra time, France were awarded a penalty which Zidane stepped up to take and sent Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia in the wrong direction, scoring the golden goal and sending France in the final of Euro 2000.

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#1 Sylvain Wiltord vs Italy, Euro 2000 Final

Sylvain Wiltord Goal 2000 France Euro

At the time of Euro 2000, France were having its best time in international football, having won the World Cup on home soil in 1998 after beating Brazil in the final. In Euro 2000, France were considered the favorites to lift the Henri-Delaunay trophy as 18 of the 22 member squad were from the victorious 1998 world cup winning team.

This side along with 1998 FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane had a number of world class players like skipper Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc, Bixente Lizarazu, Youri Djorkaeff, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires and goalie Fabien Barthez.

In the competition final, France would face Italy, who had entered the final in a manner contrasting to France.It was goalless till half-time but in the second half Italy opened the scoring through Marco Delvecchio courtesy of a Gianluca Pessotto cross. As the match drew to an end, the Italian bench was filled with excitement and were already on their feet at the fourth minute of injury time. It was then that France found salvation in the form of substitute Sylvain Wiltord, who hit a low left-footed shot past Italian goalkeeper Francesco Toldo to level the scores at 1-1.

Eventually, France went on to win the match 2-1 when two more substitutes Robert Pires and David Trezeguet combined to give France victory at Euro 2000.

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Edited by Staff Editor

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