Still feeling hot after incredible comebacks and late additional time goals in ⅛ stage? The next stage is coming, promising a lot of dramatic endings. Let’s look at the past and recall the most memorable and spectacular quarter-finals that generations will cherish forever.
June 23rd, 1996
Germany 2 – 1 Croatia
This match could have not happened at all, hadn’t Croatian coach Miroslav Blaževic decided to give a chance to his bench players in his third game in the group. Croatia’s strong performance in the group stage was giving them a shining perspective against Germany, however, the Bundesteam was the first to score with a penalty kick by Jurgen Klinsmann. Davor Suker, Croatian legend, equalized the score after tricking the German goalkeeper. Germany had a hard time at this moment, but the red card given to Stimac changed the flow of the game again with Matthias Sammer scoring the winning goal just 3 minutes after. 10-men side attacked the German goal for the rest of the game, but the German remained solid and strong.
June 25th, 2000
Netherlands 6 – 1 Yugoslavia
This game remains the only time in EURO finals history when a team have scored six. Three of those strikes came from Patrick Kluivert and two – from Marc Overmars. However, this was not about any one player – it was Frank Rijkaard’s side’s overall destruction of a Yugoslavia team so fluent in the group stage.
Patrick Kluivert scored a hat-trick in a breathtaking display of opportunism as the Netherlands booked a UEFA EURO 2000 semi-final meeting with Italy with a competition record 6-1 win.
A defence-minded Yugoslavia kept it on an even keel until midway through the first half but once Kluivert broke the deadlock they sank fast. By the time the Barcelona striker exited on the hour he had secured the match ball, also playing a big role in Dejan Govedarica’s own goal. Two late Marc Overmars strikes made it six; Savo Milošević last-gasp effort was a little consolation for such a powerful team as Yugoslavia was at that time.
July 3th, 2016
France 5 – 2 Iceland
France turned Iceland’s UEFA EURO 2016 dream into a nightmare in Saint-Denis. The finals’ smallest nation – one in 12 of Iceland’s population had travelled to France to support them! – went into the game on a high after defeating England in the last 16, but the merciless hosts ensured no repeating as they raced into a 4-0 half-time lead. Need to be said Iceland fought to the last, outscoring their opponents after the break. France made it to the final, losing only to Portugal with injured Cristiano Ronaldo his captain skills from outside the field. Iceland made it to the next level, becoming a hard nut to crack for virtually any national team in the world.
June 21th, 2008
Russia 3 – 1 Netherlands
This is one of the biggest Euro quarterfinal sensations ever. The Netherlands started the match as the major favourite of the whole tournament with three irresistible victories in the ‘group of death’ over France, Italy and Romania. Russia, in turn, looked like an underdog with its desperate game against Spain and hard wins over Greece and Sweden.
The game demonstrated the opposite, with Russians dominating on each part of the field, surprising the opponents with courageous and aggressive play. The late goal of Ruud van Nistelrooy saved the Orange from clear defeat, but the Russian terror continued in the additional time, with a brilliant performance by Andrey Arshavin who was later hired by Arsenal.
June 26th, 2004
Portugal 2 – 2 England (6-5)
This game was a high-end drama worth staging at La Scala, making the hearts of the fans change pace almost every minute. After impressive wins against Switzerland and Croatia where young 18-year-old Wayne Rooney scored a brace in both, England played with Portugal in the quarter-finals. Portugal, the host of the tournament, had a golden generation of their own: young Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid star Luis Figo. Two incredible attacks created a festival of spectacular football.
Owen put England into an early lead on three minutes. But the game changed on 27 minutes when Rooney was substituted. It made Portugal seize the initiative which culminated in a goal on 83 minutes. A brilliant bullet by Rui Costa put Portugal ahead at an extra time before Lampard levelled again in a tight fight in the centre of the penalty area.
The penalty shootout is a part of world football history, with David Beckham launching the ball into the sky, Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo taking off his gloves to save the penalty from Darius Vassell and scoring the decisive kick himself.
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