Some of the greatest goals in international football have been scored during the European Championships.
A piece of individual brilliance is often the difference between a team’s success and elimination at a major tournament. Some of the best Euros goals have turned the tide for a nation or been the cutting edge needed to help teams progress.
Wales were the dark horses in Euro 2016. Chris Coleman’s side finished top of their group, following wins over Slovakia and Russia, and set up a tough quarter-final against Belgium.
With the scores locked at 1-1 in a tense match, veteran striker Hal Robson Kanu produced a momentum of brilliance for his nation. Robson Kanu received the ball in the area with his back to goal and was closed down quickly by two Belgian defenders. In a split second, he executed the perfect Cruyff turn and slammed his shot into the bottom corner.
Wales went on to win the game 3-1, thanks to Robson-Kanu’s excellent goal. But they were eliminated in the semi-finals by eventual winners Portugal.
4. Karel Poborsky v Portugal (1996)
The Czech Republic put in one of the best ever performances at the Euros, reaching the final before losing to Germany.
Pavel Nedved, Patrick Berger and Vladimir Smicer were part of a talented Czech team. But Pavel Poborsky was the star player who made the Team of the Tournament.
Poborsky scored an outrageous lob in his side’s 1-0 quarter-final win against Portugal. After a cagey first half, Poborsky produced the match-winning moment, worthy of victory in any match.
The attacking midfielder received the ball 35-yards out, surrounded by four Portugal players. He then bundled his way through, bore down on goal and scooped the ball over the onrushing Vítor Baía to win the match for the Czech Republic.
Players have often produced wonderfully acrobatic goals in the Euros. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a flying volley against Italy in 2012, and Xherdan Shaqiri scored a powerful overhead kick in 2016.
However, Ronnie Whelan’s wonder strike against the USSR in 1988 will be hard to beat.
Jack Charlton’s Ireland took on eventual finalists USSR in Group B and took a shock lead on 38 minutes. Mick McCarthy launched in a long throw straight to the edge of the penalty area towards Whelan, who launched himself up, spun in the air and volleyed in an unstoppable strike into the top corner.
It was a sensational opening goal, but Ireland couldn’t hold on and drew 1-1 with the USSR. Ireland were eliminated from the group stages, but Whelan supplied the nation with a moment of class.
Paul Gascoigne’s moment of brilliance against Scotland in the 1996 group stages is one of the defining images of the Euros.
England desperately needed a win after a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in the opening match. Alan Shearer opened the scoring on 53 minutes, but England needed another goal to put the game beyond doubt.
With 10 minutes left, the ball bounced to Gazza 20 yards out. He flicked the ball over a scrambling Stephen Hendrie and volleyed in a powerful strike straight into the bottom corner.
Wembley erupted, and Gazza’s famous dentist chair celebration was fondly remembered alongside his moment of world-class goal,
The world’s greatest players are capable of the spectacular on the biggest stage. In the 1988 Euros final, the Netherlands led the USSR 1-0 at halftime thanks to Ruud Gullit’s opener.
The Netherlands needed another goal to put themselves into a comfortable position against a dangerous USSR side. 10 minutes into the second half, Van Basten executed a technically brilliant strike to wrap up the Netherlands’ first major title.
Erwin Koeman received the ball deep on the left flank and crossed a speculative ball towards Van Basten at the far post. The striker then unleashed the perfect volley from the tightest of angles back across goal and into the top corner to win the game for the Netherlands.
Will there be more worldly goals to come in Euro 2020?
With so many flair players taking part in this tournament, will there be a new name to add to this list? The groups are packed with hugely talented players including Harry Kane, Karim Benzema, and Robert Lewandowski to name a few players to watch out for.
The home nations all have some tricky matches in their groups but with the full support of the country behind them, who knows how far they can go.
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