Euro 2020: Biggest shocks in European Championship history?

June 10, 2021 By 0 Comments

The European Championship has thrown up plenty of surprises during its 60-plus years – from shock titles for Denmark and Greece to Iceland’s unexpected heroics.

BBC Sport has teamed up with data experts Gracenote to uncover the 10 biggest shocks in Euros history.

10. England 0-1 Yugoslavia – Euro 1968 semi-final

World Cup winners two years earlier, England faced Yugoslavia for a place in the final of the 1968 European Championship in Italy.

But it was not to be for Alf Ramsey’s men this time around.

A squad featuring Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks and Geoff Hurst had hopes of another trophy. But Dragan Dzajic fired past Banks in the 86th minute to end their hopes of another memorable triumph.

9. West Germany 0-1 Spain – Euro 1984 group stage

Holders West Germany required only a point to progress to the semi-finals as group runners-up in 1984 – and they were certainly fancied to get it.

Antonio Maceda celebrates with Spainish colleagues

Spain had other ideas, however, as Antonio Maceda’s 90th-minute goal stunned Jupp Derwall’s side. The late winner sent the Germans home and saw Spain clinch top spot before losing in the final to France.

8. Portugal 1-2 Greece – Euro 2004 group stage

One magical summer will never be forgotten in Greece, as the nation pulled off one of football’s greatest shocks to win Euro 2004. That final victory against hosts Portugal ranks as the most surprising result in a Euros final (24.5% chance) – but it fails to make the cut here.

Georgios Karagounis, Greece

That’s because the unfancied Greeks had already beaten Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men in their opening group game, as goals from Georgios Karagounis and Angelos Basinas sealed victory despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s late response. Even then, nobody predicted what would follow.

7. Ukraine 0-2 Northern Ireland – Euro 2016 group stage

“It is probably something that might not fully sink in for another 30 or 40 years.”

Gareth McAuley leads Northern Ireland to celebrate

That was Niall McGinn’s view four years on from scoring his famous goal at Euro 2016 which, after Gareth McAuley’s header, sealed a 2-0 victory over Ukraine. It was Northern Ireland’s first win at a major finals since 1982. That one group-stage victory was enough for Michael O’Neill’s men to earn qualification for the knockout stages too.

6. CIS 0-3 Scotland – Euro 1992 group stage

After opening defeats by the Netherlands and Germany, Scotland were eliminated – but claimed a memorable first victory at the tournament against their final group opponents, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – formed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Scotland vs CIS

Paul McStay, Brian McClair and Gary McAllister earned a 3-0 victory to ensure Roxburgh’s side left with their pride intact.

5. Netherlands 0-1 Denmark – Euro 2012 group stage

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk was lulled into admitting his side were favourites in 2012, but in hindsight it may all have been mind games.

Michael Krohn-Dehli, Denmark

The Netherlands – World Cup runners-up two years earlier – were stunned by Michael Krohn-Dehli’s first-half strike, and went on to lose all three of their games. Denmark, despite their surprise win, also failed to make the knockout stages.

4. Belgium 0-2 Turkey – Euro 2000 group stage

Hakan Sukur, Turkey

Turkey’s 2-0 defeat of Belgium at Euro 2000, which simultaneously sealed his nation’s first ever appearance in the knockout stages of a major tournament, and eliminated the co-hosts.

Hakan Sukur scored both goals for the underdogs, who had taken only one point from their first two games.

3. Belgium 1-3 Wales – Euro 2016 quarter-final

Robson-Kanu, Wales

The greatest night in Welsh football history ranked as the third greatest Euros shock of all-time, with Robson-Kanu’s sensational turn and finish, the highlight of an unforgettable victory in 2016.

In Wales’ first major tournament for 58 years, Chris Coleman’s side came from a goal down to beat a talented Belgium 3-1 and reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the very first time.

2. France 0-1 Greece – Euro 2004 quarter-final

“This is the greatest moment in Greek football,” declared match winner Angelos Charisteas.

Match winner Angelos Charisteas, Greece

Les Bleus could offer no response to Charisteas’ second-half header as the Greek’s fairytale summer continued at the expense of a French side which boasted Zinedine Zidane, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry. There were even greater moments to come. Greece would go on to claim their first and only major title, beating Portugal in Lisbon.

1. England 1-2 Iceland – Euro 2016 last-16

Iceland team that beat England

“We all believed. The rest of the world didn’t but we did.” Those were the words of defender Kari Arnason, after he and his Iceland team-mates recorded the most unlikely result in the competition’s history and condemned Roy Hodgson’s England to surely their most humiliating defeat in any competition. In what was described by former England striker Alan Shearer as “the worst performance I’ve ever seen from an England team”, Iceland came from behind to beat the Three Lions 2-1 in the last 16 in 2016.


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