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EURO Classics: Netherlands 1-4 England

Watch this memorable EURO '96 performance from England in full on UEFA.tv; we set the scene.

England were already playing in front of an expectant nation at EURO '96, but this was the game that turned that anticipation into delirium.

WATCH THE GAME BACK IN FULL ON UEFA.tv

Context

Watch great England EURO goals
Watch great England EURO goals

Both teams needed only a draw to progress to the last eight having picked up four points from their opening two Group A games. Hosts England had drawn 1-1 with Switzerland before a 2-0 victory against rivals Scotland, while the Dutch followed stalemate with Craig Brown's side with a 2-0 defeat of the Swiss.

Key players

  • Alan Shearer: The then Blackburn striker had drawn a blank in 12 internationals prior to his effort against Switzerland and finished as tournament top scorer with five goals in all. Joined boyhood club Newcastle United for a world-record fee later that summer.
  • Teddy Sheringham: The crafty Spurs striker forged a lethal partnership with Shearer that became known as 'The SAS'. Never did the pair dovetail better than in this game.
  • Paul Gascoigne: Thought of by many in England as a once-in-a-generation player, 'Gazza' was a true maverick. A larger-than-life character on and off the field, one of the defining moments of a brilliant if chequered career was his goal and celebration against Scotland a few days prior to this game.
EURO '96 highlights: Spotlight on Paul Gascoigne
EURO '96 highlights: Spotlight on Paul Gascoigne

What happened

In a nutshell, England put in their best performance for years. Terry Venables' side were riding the crest of a wave with their home fans growing in excitement by the game – even more so than after this.

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Shearer's first-half penalty put England in front, but it was a devastating 12-minute spell in the second half which is still remembered so fondly even today. Sheringham headed in the hosts' second, contributed a delightful lay-off to Shearer for the third and finished on the rebound for the fourth. Patrick Kluivert's late consolation sent the Dutch through as group runners-up.

Reaction

EURO '96 top scorer: All of Alan Shearer's goals
EURO '96 top scorer: All of Alan Shearer's goals

Terry Venables, England manager: “I can sleep easily now. This makes all the years of hard work, the planning and the worrying worthwhile. I’m full of pride, because to beat Holland like this means so much to me.”

Alan Shearer, England goalscorer: "The best performance by an England team I'd ever played in."

The Guardian newspaper: "The game is now enshrined in folklore as one of England’s greatest ever performances."

Elsewhere that evening

Ally McCoist scored the only goal as Scotland beat Switzerland to give themselves a chance of going through from second spot in Group A. They missed out on goals scored, though, following Kluivert's effort against England.

Aftermath

EURO '96 highlights: The full England-Germany penalty shoot-out
EURO '96 highlights: The full England-Germany penalty shoot-out

England beat Spain on penalties in the last eight but lost to eventual winners Germany on spot kicks in the semi-finals, just as they had done at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. The Netherlands had also exited after a shoot-out following a goalless draw against France in the quarter-finals.

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