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EURO days for defenders to forget

Published: Saturday 14 April 2012, 11.00CET
Starting with a nine-goal thriller in the opening game of the inaugural tournament in 1960, looks at the highest-scoring fixtures in UEFA European Championship history.

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Published: Saturday 14 April 2012, 11.00CET

EURO days for defenders to forget

Starting with a nine-goal thriller in the opening game of the inaugural tournament in 1960, looks at the highest-scoring fixtures in UEFA European Championship history.

The first UEFA European Championship fixture may have featured more goals than any finals match since, but there has nevertheless been no shortage of high-scoring affairs in the interim. looks back at a selection of occasions for defenders to forget.

1960 semi-finals: France 4-5 Yugoslavia
The opening game of the inaugural tournament produced an encounter barely matched for drama in the 52 years since. Early blows were traded before France went 2-1 up just before half-time, yet there was little sign of the explosion of goals to come. Les Bleus doubled their advantage twice – either side of Ante Žanetić's 55th-minute effort – to lead 4-2 with a quarter of an hour left, but three goals in five minutes turned the match on its head in remarkable fashion.

1976 semi-finals: Yugoslavia 2-4 West Germany (aet)
Two down inside half an hour, the holders' title defence was on the rocks. Helmut Schön's 1974 FIFA World Cup winners did not deal in capitulations, however, and were on level terms with eight minutes left thanks to Heinz Flohe and substitute Dieter Müller. Müller hit two more in the last six minutes of extra time to complete his hat-trick and put West Germany through to a showpiece against Czechoslovakia – not a bad international debut for the striker.

1996 group stage: Russia 3-3 Czech Republic
A match of twists and turns which so nearly spelt the end of EURO '96 for the Czechs. Two to the good inside 20 minutes, their lead was gone just after half-time and they were behind with five minutes left. Defeat would have meant Italy went through from Group C in place of Dušan Uhrin's men, but Vladimír Šmicer came to their rescue with two minutes remaining – as it turned out, that dramatic conclusion marked barely the start of a memorable tournament for the Czechs.

2000 group stage: Yugoslavia 3-3 Slovenia
To suggest the odds were stacked against Yugoslavia with 30 minutes left would be to do them a disservice – it was a task of Everest proportions. Slovenia were not only 3-0 up after two Zlatko Zahovič goals and Miran Pavlin's header, they also had a man extra after Siniša Mihajlović's dismissal on the hour. But Yugoslavia did not know they were beaten and hauled it back to 3-3 with goals on 67, 70 and 73 minutes, Ivan Dudić's late goal-line clearance ensuring their hard work did not go to waste.

2000 group stage: Yugoslavia 3-4 Spain
Spain really did look dead and buried as this, their final group game, wound to a close. José Antonio Camacho's side needed to win to go through to the quarter-finals but trailed 3-2 to ten-man Yugoslavia as the match entered added time. Gaizka Mendieta's free-kick drew Spain level but they still needed to eke out another; Alfonso Pérez duly hammered in his second of the game and pandemonium ensued. Yugoslavia, at least, could be consoled by the fact that they went through, too.

2000 quarter-finals: Netherlands 6-1 Yugoslavia
This was an all-singing, all-dancing display from the Dutch and remains the only occasion in EURO finals history that a team has scored six. Three of them came from Patrick Kluivert – a man who, at the height of his career, had eyes only for the back of the net – and two courtesy of the vivacious wing-play of Marc Overmars. However, this was not about any one player – it was the overall destruction of a Yugoslavia team so fluent in the group stage that was most impressive about Frank Rijkaard's side.

2004 group stage: Croatia 2-4 England
Having burst on to the scene with two goals against Switzerland in England's previous encounter, this was the day Wayne Rooney truly announced himself on the European stage. Sven-Göran Eriksson's team were behind early, but goals by Rooney either side of Paul Scholes's effort put England back on track. Each team traded further efforts in the closing 20 minutes but Rooney's influence had already assured England's progress beyond the group stage for the first time on foreign soil.

Last updated: 10/02/14 14.54CET

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