The UEFA European Championship (or more famously the “Euros”) is just days away from seeing its 15th edition commencing in France this summer. Over the years, the European championships has seen many exciting and nail-biting matches. However, the most anticipated match of the tournament is the final.
Since its inception, the Euros has seen many finals which were worth remembering. A few of them have in fact gone down in the history books as some of the most exciting matches of that period. Here are five such Euro finals which gave the fans an overdose of entertainment, excitement and suspense.
#1 Euro 2000: Italy vs France
The first European championship of the 21st century had a number of exciting matches which included Spain’s dramatic 4-3 victory over Yugoslavia and France’s exciting semi-final clash with Portugal which was won by France on a golden goal. However, it was the tournament’s final at Rotterdam which proved to be one of the most dramatic matches in the history of the Euros.
Reigning world champions France were looking to become the second team after West Germany to complete a World Cup and Euro double. Les Bleus were having a good run in the tournament and had qualified for the final courtesy of Zinedine Zidane’s golden goal against Portugal in the semis. Standing in their way was a resilient Italy team led by Paolo Maldini. Contrastingly, Italy qualified for the final thanks to four penalty saves by custodian Francesco Toldo against the Netherlands in the semi-finals.The final didn’t have much excitement until ten minutes in the second half. Italy took the lead thanks to a goal from surprise selection Marco Delvecchio. Following Delvecchio’s opener, France made three changes and brought on Sylvain Wiltord, David Trezeguet, and Robert Pires. Meanwhile, Alessandro Del Piero had a couple of opportunities to double Italy’s lead but failed to capitalise on them.
With only moments to go before the end of injury time, Wiltord slid in the equaliser to rescue France and the match subsequently went into extra time where a golden goal would decide the winner. The substitutes turned out to be the heroes for France as Robert Pires’ pass found David Trezeguet who struck the Golden Goal to crown France the champions of Euro 2000.A match full of drama and excitement, the final of Euro 2000 will certainly go down in history books as one of the most thrilling matches in European Championship history.