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England beat Soviet Union to win EURO 1968 third-place play-off

England 2-0 USSR
Sir Alf Ramsey's world champions secured third place on their EURO debut.

EURO 68 highlights: England 2-0 USSR
EURO 68 highlights: England 2-0 USSR

World champions England had hoped for more from their first foray into the UEFA European Championship, but goals from Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst ensured they did not go home empty-handed.

Charlton set Sir Alf Ramsey's team on their way six minutes before the interval, arriving in the penalty area with trademark timing and lashing in. Hurst had done the hard work and the West Ham United man, restored to the England attack after sitting out the semi-final defeat by Yugoslavia three days earlier, fully justified his selection with the second goal just after the hour.

EURO 1968: All you need to know

There was no way back for the Soviet Union, still coming to terms with the profound disappointment of their last-four loss when Italy advanced at their expense after a coin toss. Yet an unchanged side began brightly in front of a crowd of 68,817 at the Stadio Olimpico and had Eduard Malofeev, free at the far post, met Gennadi Yevryuzhikhin's fine early cross with more purpose they would have forged ahead.

The forward instead directed his header straight at Gordon Banks, and England gradually took the initiative. Roger Hunt lashed over after Yuri Pshenichnikov could only parry into his path a left-wing cross from Tommy Wright, making his debut at full-back. Charlton similarly blazed over following a commanding run from Bobby Moore as the England back line basked in the space afforded them – next time, the USSR would pay.

Highlights: The best goals of EURO 1968
Highlights: The best goals of EURO 1968

Moore again set the move off, advancing deep into opposition territory before switching play to left and West Ham club-mate Peters. The midfielder's cross towards the penalty spot found Hurst who, crowded by defenders, simply diverted the ball into the path of Charlton – 1-0.

Yet it was far from one-way traffic and at the start of the second period the USSR reversed the flow, twice going close around the hour mark. First Malofeev had an effort deflected over after Anatoli Banishevski had skipped Wilson's challenge and from the resulting corner Banks was almost caught at the near post.

FIFA World Cup winners two years earlier, England would be expected to weather the storm but confidence had been dented by losses to Scotland and, on the eve of the tournament, West Germany. Hurst's goal was a welcome relief.

The build-up was innocuous enough, Peters pick-pocketed Gennadi Logofet in midfield and strode forward. His shot was blocked, but only as far as Hurst who expertly rounded Pshenichnikov before firing into the empty net.

Still England pressed, Hunt and Charlton going close, but Sir Alf's side had it in the bag. The celebrations at full time were muted, though: it was the evening's final these sides had come for.

EURO 1968: Team of the Tournament

Lineups

England: Banks; Wilson, Labone, Moore, Hunter, Wright; Charlton, Peters, Stiles; Hurst, Hunt
Substitutes: none
Coach: Sir Alf Ramsey

USSR: Pshenichnikov, Afonin, Banishevski, Byshovets, Yevryuzhikhin, Istomin, Kaplichni, Malofeev, Shesternev, Lenev, Logofet
Substitutes: none
Coach: Mikhail Yakushin

Referee: István Zsolt (Hungary)