The second edition of the European Nations’ Cup was held in Spain and had a similar format to the inaugural edition of the 1960 when it was organized in France.
It was a knockout competition with 29 nations participating. Similar to the first edition, the participating countries played home and away fixtures until the semi-finals after which the top four teams contested for the trophy in the host country. Interestingly, the host was selected after the four semi-finalists were known.
Luxembourg were a surprise element at the tournament. After getting a bye in the first round, they defeated Netherlands in the second round by an aggregate score of 3-2 and then drew with Denmark over the two legs – 3-3 and 2-2 – before losing out to the Scandinavians 1-0 in a replay.
Reigning champions Soviet Union, Hungary, Spain and Denmark were the four semi-finalists as Spain were chosen to host the last four games of the tournament.
In the first semi-final, the hosts got past Hungary 2-1. Then Barcelona forward Jesus Maria Pereda put Spain ahead in the 35th minute, but the Hungarians drew level in the 84th minute via a Ferenc Bene strike. It eventually took a goal from Real Madrid’s Amancio Amaro in extra time to book La Furia Roja’s spot in the summit clash of their home tournament.
In the other semi-final, the Soviet Union defeated Denmark 3-0 with goals from Valery Voronin and heroes of the first edition Viktor Ponedelnik and Valentin Ivanov.
General Franco had withdrawn his team from the 1960 European Nations’ Cup as he didn’t want his side to face the Soviet Union. However, he let his country face the Soviets in the final this time, and in front of the 79,000 supporters at the Santiago Bernabeu, Spain were crowned European champions after defeating the Soviets 2-1 in the final. Pereda and Marcelino Martinez were the scorers for Spain, while Galimzyan Khusainov got the only Soviet goal.
Highlights of the final between Spain and USSR.
Hungary overcame Denmark 3-1 in extra time to take third spot. In the individual stakes, Bene, Pereda and Dezso Novak were the top scorers with two goals each.