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Memorable EURO attacking displays: Ronaldo, Rooney, Balotelli

UEFA.com remembers how some stellar strikers turned EURO games.

Cristiano Ronaldo led by example at EURO 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo led by example at EURO 2016 @Getty Images

It is 24 years to the day since Oliver Bierhoff put his seal on EURO '96; UEFA.com picks out five more striking performances that left their mark at past final tournaments.

Check out our selections below.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Hungary 3-3 Portugal, 2016)

All Cristiano Ronaldo's EURO goals
All Cristiano Ronaldo's EURO goals

Portugal’s EURO triumph would never have happened had Cristiano Ronaldo not rallied his team-mates in their final group game, equalising twice as his side limped through with a third Group F draw. Out-of-sorts Portugal leaked goals alarmingly, but a back-heeled flick and a header from their captain rescued them – and made Ronaldo the first player to score at four EUROs. "This was an insane match," the No7 said when it was all over. "Three times we were going home and we had to chase the result."

Mario Balotelli (Germany 1-2 Italy, 2012)

EURO 2012 highlights: Germany 1-2 Italy
EURO 2012 highlights: Germany 1-2 Italy

Going into the semi-final, Mario Balotelli’s EURO looked likely to be defined by off-pitch wranglings and missed chances, but he stepped up against Germany, powering in a header to put Italy in front before making it 2-0 with a rocket-powered drive – and celebrating by glowering at the crowd. It was emblematic of a display of raw power.

"There's always been aggression [in my game]," he told UEFA.com. "Always the desire to score; maybe I was just missing a bit of luck."

UEFA.tv: EURO top scorers


Wayne Rooney (Croatia 2-4 England, 2004)

EURO 2004 highlights: Spotlight on Wayne Rooney
EURO 2004 highlights: Spotlight on Wayne Rooney

England boss Sven-Göran Eriksson captured the mood of the moment at EURO 2004 when he said of the 18-year-old Rooney: "I don't remember anyone making such an impact on a tournament since Pelé at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden."

Having become (briefly) the EURO’s youngest ever scorer after netting twice against Switzerland, the teenager's thump from distance and measured second against Croatia helped England sail into the knockout phase. Pelé himself noted that Rooney "showed maturity and composure beyond his young years".

Marco van Basten (England 1-3 Netherlands, 1988)

Watch Van Basten's five EURO 1988 goals
Watch Van Basten's five EURO 1988 goals

If the 23-year-old’s volley in the final against the USSR was the take-home goal of the 1988 finals, his overall display against England was more overwhelming. The 'Swan of Utrecht' scored lots of spectacular goals, but he worked for his three against England: twisting and turning to earn the shot for the first, pouncing on Ruud Gullit’s pass for the second, then making space to smash away the third after a flick-on from a corner.

"It was a game where everything changed," he told UEFA.com, good vibes taking the Dutch to glory.

Michel Platini (France 3-2 Yugoslavia, 1984)

Highlights: Watch Platini’s nine goals at EURO 1984
Highlights: Watch Platini’s nine goals at EURO 1984

"No one can repeat what Platini did," said France team-mate Luis Fernández as he reflected on the No10’s competition-record haul of nine goals from five games in France’s 1984 triumph; countryman Antoine Griezmann’s six from seven matches in 2016 is the nearest anyone has come to equalling him. Platini’s hat-trick against Yugoslavia followed a treble in a 5-0 defeat of Belgium, and this time it was a perfect one – with a sliding finish with his left foot preceding a diving header and a well-struck free-kick.

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