With so much at stake in almost every game at major final tournaments, a good start can be imperative. It can help lay the foundations for victory, undermining your opponents in the process – unless, it seems, you are England. UEFA.com looks back at the UEFA European Championship's quickest goals.
1.07 – Dmitri Kirichenko (Russia 2-1 Greece, 20/06/2004)
Kirichenko endured a frustrating introduction to UEFA EURO 2004, watching from the bench as Russia's hopes vanished with back-to-back defeats. Coach Georgi Yartsev removed the blinkers for their final Group A outing and the PFC CSKA Moskva striker shot out of the blocks, galloping through after 67 seconds and steering a right-foot shot past Antonios Nikopolidis. Strike partner Dmitri Bulykin soon doubled the lead though Zisis Vryzas's reply two minutes before half-time was enough to take Greece through.
2.07 – Sergei Aleinikov (England 1-3 Soviet Union, 18/06/1988)
The USSR needed a win to guarantee progress to the semi-finals and they could not have got off to a better start as Glenn Hoddle was easily dispossessed early on. Aleinikov surged through the middle and turned sharply before finishing past Chris Woods. Hoddle made amends on 16 minutes, whipping in a free-kick which Tony Adams met with a bullet header, but further goals from Oleksiy Mykhailychenko and Viktor Pasulko ensured England departed without a point to their name.
2.14 – Petr Jiráček (Czech Republic 2-1 Greece, 12/06/2012)
The third quickest goal mark was equalled as the second set of UEFA EURO 2012 games began in Wroclaw. The Czechs had lost their opener to Russia and needed a result, and Tomáš Hübschman measured a pass between makeshift Greece centre-back partnership Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Kostas Katsouranis for Jiráček to score a goal swiftly added to by Václav Pilař.
2.14 – Alan Shearer (Germany 1-1 (5-6 pens) England, 26/06/1996)
This blockbuster semi-final started with a bang. Paul Ince had already had a rasping volley athletically turned over by Andreas Köpke when the keeper was beaten, Shearer swooping in to register his fifth goal of the tournament after Tony Adams had flicked on Paul Gascoigne's corner. Stefan Kuntz levelled and try as they might – Darren Anderton hit a post and Gascoigne came a whisker away from converting Shearer's cross – hosts England could not avoid penalties. There was only ever going to be one winner.
2.25 – Michael Owen (Portugal 2-2 (5-6 pens) England, 24/06/2004)
It was all eerily familiar eight years later as England enjoyed a dream start to their quarter-final against hosts Portugal when Jorge Andrade failed to cut out Costinha's misjudged back header. Owen pounced on the loose ball, pivoted and flicked it beyond Ricardo. The lead stood for 80 minutes before Hélder Postiga took the tie into extra time; a goal apiece in the additional half-hour then took it to penalties. There was only ever going to be one loser.
2.27 – Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria 1-0 Romania, 13/06/1996)
Romania became the first team to exit EURO '96, ultimately undone by a moment of early magic. The crowd were still settling into their seats at St James' Park when, picking up a short pass, Stoichkov took advantage of a slip by Miodrag Belodedici to dart through a gap in the defence. Free to run at the Romania defence. He made an extra metre of space with a cute dummy and stabbed the ball past Bogdan Stelea with his left foot.
And in a final …
6.00* – Chus Pereda (Spain 2-1 Soviet Union, 21/06/1964)
Not many FC Barcelona players bring a boisterous Santiago Bernabéu crowd to their feet, fewer still who have turned their backs on Real Madrid CF, but Pereda gave them no choice. The 1964 showpiece was six minutes old when Luis Suárez's right-wing cross was thumped in by Pereda from close range having been missed by Eduard Mudrik. The USSR were soon level courtesy of Galimzyan Khusainov but Spain came good, Suárez again demonstrating his influence by laying on Marcelino for a late winner.
* Precise timing not known
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