After my initial choice for 5th, Here are my next two favourite matches from the European Championships.
Number 4: Holland Vs Yugoslavia Euro 00 Quarter Finals June 25th 2000
Occasionally, when you’re as obsessed with football as much as me, you sit through some dire games. This wasn’t a game that I had that bad a feeling for but the result that afternoon still stuns me today.
The Dutch had been playing some wonderful football and previously had beaten France in a five goal thriller in the Group D’s final match. Yet, Yugoslavia had shown themselves to be no mean side either (See my favourite games tomorrow) in getting out of a tough group including Slovenia, Spain and Norway.
This game set off a 100 miles an hour and never stopped. Looking back, it’s hard to think how the score stayed 0-0 until the 24th minute. Holland were unbelievable throughout the game, rampaging down the wings, playing a completely different blend of football to their opponents but it was Bergkamp who stamped his class on the game with his passing and vision.
Kluivert hit two first half goals to put the Dutch 2-0 and within 5 minutes of the restart, Kluivert completed his hatrick, then on 58 minutes hit his 4th goal. The Dutch could do no wrong and it was only down to Kralj in the Yugoslav goal that the score remained 4-0 until the 78th minute when Overmars scored one the great European Championship goals when flicked up a pass from Bergkamp and volleyed home from 25 yards. Overmars hit his second and the Dutch’s 6th in the final minute with a thrilling burst and Milosevic somehow managed to get a goal back for Yugoslavia 30 seconds later. I do not underestimate the performance of the Dutch in this game when I think on another day, they’d have scored 10 quite easily.
Makaay, Overmars, Davids and Bergkamp all missed easier chances than the Dutch actually scored and the Dutch fans were in wonderland. It was all to go horribly wrong in the semi-final against ten man Italy as the Dutch missed chance after chance in the match and limped out losing 3-1 on penalties.
Number 3: England vs Holland Euro 96 Group A final game June 18th 1996
Ah, the game that brings a tear of joy to every England fan when they remember back to the summer when football came home.
This is one of those games where nostalgia can sometimes give you a rose tinted view of the match and think that England were easy victors but the Dutch were very unfortunate not to be ahead before England won a penalty that Shearer smashed home. England hung on until half time without conceding but the second half was a different game. Gascoigne came out and ripped Holland apart, showing just why he was the best English player of the last 25 years. The Dutch simply couldn’t cope with him and the floodgates opened, Sheringham heading past Van Der Saar, Shearer hammering the ball in after a wonderful passage of play from England and then Sheringham hitting his second to make it 4-0. It was a shock to see England play this well agiainst Andorra, but for a performance of this quality against Holland, I was in heaven.
At that point, the Dutch were going out but Kluivert popped up with a consolation goal that broke Scottish hearts as the Dutch pipped them to second place on goal difference.
This game is easily England’s greatest performance in the European Championships and with the news about Paul Gascoigne’s health at the moment, a timely reminder to all those that loved watching Gazza play. England were magnificent in the second half and the qualifying for South Africa cannot come quickly enough!