England got their tournament up and running with a first group victory against the auld enemy thanks to the goal-poaching of Alan Shearer, the penalty saving of David Seaman and the audacious skill of Paul Gascoigne.
Gascoigne's unpredictability brought off-the-field problems but it was an essential part of his greatest work with a ball at his feet, perhaps no better demonstrated than the memorable goal against Scotland that lit up EURO '96.
With the hosts grimly holding on to a 1-0 lead earned by Shearer's header and grateful for Seaman's save to deny Gary McAllister from the penalty spot moments earlier, Gazza took centre stage. Collecting a Darren Anderton chip on the edge of the box, the midfielder flicked the ball over Colin Hendry with his left foot, ran round him as the defender stumbled and volleyed past Andy Goram with his right. It was sheer brilliance, blending technical maturity with an almost youthful abandon.
"Mr Paul Gascoigne: An Apology", read a Daily Mirror editorial two days later, retracting its heavy criticism of Gazza and his part in England's team-building trip to Hong Kong. It was not unfounded censure, and Terry Venables' side had made a sluggish start to their home finals, held 1-1 by Switzerland. Even this meeting with such close rivals struggled to get going, but the introduction of Jamie Redknapp to support Gascoigne changed all that.
Within eight minutes of the restart the home side were in front when Gareth Southgate found Gary Neville in space on the right, and his brisk cross was directed perfectly for Shearer to head in. The striker became the first England player to score more than one goal in the UEFA European Championship. With Steve McManaman carrying the ball skilfully, England seemed set fair.
But an experienced Scotland side refused to buckle and Seaman had to save a header from Gordon Durie, who was then brought down by Tony Adams in the area. McAllister began his run-up but the ball moved on the penalty spot and Seaman saved his firm shot with his elbow. With the kind of luck they have grown used to in major finals, Scotland then fell further behind.
Out on the left, Anderton touched a volley inside to Gascoigne, who brought the crowd to its feet by doing the rest. It was a truly memorable moment although again England had played in fits and starts, and would need a big improvement against the Dutch to go through, which they duly delivered. For Scotland, the familiar heroic failure beckoned.
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