Football

Top five: European Championship goals

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Gazza fires England 2-0 ahead in memorable fashion(©GettyImages)
Gazza fires England 2-0 ahead in memorable fashion(©GettyImages).

From Karel Poborsky's scoop to Marco van Basten's volley, European Championships have played host to some of the best goals in recent memory.

The quadrennial gathering of Europe's finest footballers has produced countless memorable moments, controversies, scandals and scraps, but it's always best to relive the great goals.

With Euro 2012 fast approaching, GMF casts its eye back to some of the most memorable goals in European Championships history.

 

Maniche (Portugal v Netherlands, Euro 2004)

Portugal's run to the final on home soil seemed destined to end with a first international trophy, but a Greek fairytale dashed the nation's hopes. Instead, Maniche's wonder goal against a much-fancied Dutch side represented their high point.

Cristiano Ronaldo had edged the home side ahead with a first half strike, when the Porto midfielder received a short corner on the edge of the Dutch penalty area. Maniche took a touch, taking him to the corner of the 18-yard box, before unleashing a swerving drive past the despairing reach of Edwin van der Sar.

To beat Van der Sar from such an angle requires a special strike, and there have not been many better than Maniche's semi-final rocket.

 

Karel Poborsky (Czech Republic v Portugal, Euro 96)

With the game finely poised at 0-0, Czech Republic and Portugal's quarter-final match was lacking inspiration in the final third.

Up stepped Poborsky. After a lucky bounce off a Portuguese defender, the Slavia Prague winger took advantage of some tentative defending and produced a moment of magic worthy of winning any match. Driving at the heart of the defence, the Czech's record appearance maker had the vision, the ability and composure to scoop the ball over the onrushing Vitor Baia.

Off the back of his performances, Poborsky earned himself a move to Manchester United - Sir Alex Ferguson obviously a keen admirer of the Czech's flamboyant wing-play. But he's unlikely to have scored a better, or more important, goal.

 

Paul Gascoigne (England v Scotland, Euro 96)

A hopeful ball down the line, a flick of the left foot, and a wave of the right, and Paul Gascoigne was back in the "dentist's chair" celebrating one of the best goals of his career.

The former-Spurs player came into the tournament short of form, and under pressure after a controversial night out in Hong Kong made the front page of the tabloids.

But that goal against Scotland kick-started not just Gazza's tournament, but England's. After a stale draw with Switzerland in their opening group game, the hosts risked an embarrassing group stage exit if they failed to beat old rivals Scotland.

Gazza's goal sealed the win, England went on to dismantle Holland, squeak past Spain before their glorious failure against Germany. Still, Euro '96 remains England's best European Championships performance.

 

David Trezeguet (France v Italy, Euro 2000)

Some goals are fantastic regardless of context, while others are all the more impressive because of their importance. Trezeguet's goal falls into the latter camp.

After Sylvain Wiltord's last-gasp leveller had broken Italian hearts and taken the game to extra time, Trezeguet's fierce strike was the ultimate golden goal, four years after Bierhoff's against the Czech Republic.

Robert Pires was the architect, slaloming through a weary Italian defence before slipping a left-foot cross into the path of Trezeguet. First-time, on the swivel, the Frenchman lashed the ball into the net, and France claimed the European Championship trophy to go with their World Cup triumph on home soil two years earlier.

 

Marco van Basten (USSR v Holland, Euro 88)

If Trezeguet's goal in the 2000 final was raw drama, Van Basten's goal in the Euro '88 final was sheer beauty. One of the finest goals of all-time, Van Basten's volley is unlikely to be bettered.

But the AC Milan forward's side had been beaten by the USSR 1-0 in the group stages, and were in danger of elimination early on in the tournament.

They recovered, and beat Germany in the semi-finals, setting up the perfect set-piece for revenge. Van Basten had been majestic all tournament - and ended up as top goalscorer - but he saved his best for last.

A deep left-wing cross swung harmlessly across the Soviet penalty area, and the Dutch striker ambled after it, tracking the ball's flight. As it dropped down, Van Basten shaped his body to shoot, but he was nearer the corner flag than the penalty spot.

What followed was one of the purest volleys in footballing history, a masterclass in technique, and Holland's second goal on their way to a 2-0 victory over the USSR. The look on Holland's coach, Dutch legend Rinus Michels, said it all. What on earth just happened.

 

Have your say on your favourite European Championship goal and join the debate by leaving a comment below...

Topics:
Internationals
Football
Edwin Van der Sar
Cristiano Ronaldo
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