Ponedelnik heads Soviet Union to glory

USSR 2-1 Yugoslavia (aet)
Inspired by Lev Yashin, the Soviet Union came from behind to be crowned inaugural champions thanks to Viktor Ponedelnik's extra-time winner.

EURO 1960 final highlights: USSR 2-1 Yugoslavia
EURO 1960 final highlights: USSR 2-1 Yugoslavia

Lev Yashin provided the defiance and Viktor Ponedelnik the extra-time winner as the Soviet Union beat Yugoslavia 2-1 to become the first team to lift the Henri Delaunay Cup.

In the inaugural UEFA European Football Championship final courtesy of a dramatic 5-4 comeback win against France in the last four, Yugoslavia's flair came to the fore once more in the showpiece. Milan Galić put them ahead in scrappy fashion and thereafter it was only Yashin's heroics in goal which denied them. Slava Metreveli duly levelled the scores before Ponedelnik wrote his name into Soviet folklore with the decisive second.

Initially, Yugoslavia's touch and tactical intelligence gave them the edge on a slippery pitch, Dragoslav Sekularac and Bora Kostić keeping up their good work of the semi-final. Their opener, however, did not reflect their early style: Galić was given the credit for bundling in Drazen Jerkovic's cross-shot, although Igor Netto was also in the vicinity. That goal took Galić equal with the world record of scoring in ten consecutive internationals.

Yashin, 30, then started to show his excellence, making a series of fine saves, especially from thunderous Kostić free-kicks, to keep his team in the game. Yugoslavian counterpart Blagoje Vidinic, by contrast, dropped Valentin Bubukin's long shot and allowed Metreveli to equalise.

Valentin Ivanov spurned a fine chance with three minutes left, though Yugoslavia missed a golden opportunity of their own in extra time when Jerkovic allowed the ball to skid under his foot right on the goal line. It proved decisive for, with seven minutes remaining, Ponedelnik headed his country to glory.

The first player to be called up to the Soviet Union national team while playing for a second division club, Ponedelnik had justified his  selection by hitting a hat-trick on his debut in a 7-1 win against Poland in May 1960. Now he was the toast of his country. "There are matches and goals which are really special, sort of a climax of a player's sporting life," he said later.