To continue our ‘Classic Euros’ series ahead of the beginning of this summer’s Euro 2020, we’re going back to one of the great summers of European Championship football.
Fans all across England were treated to a month-long bonanza of the greatest players and teams – one which Terry Venables’s side were right at the heart of.
As is traditional for the host side, England kicked off their tournament at Wembley. After taking the lead through Alan Shearer, a 1-1 draw against Switzerland didn’t represent the perfect start, but a 2-0 victory over Scotland restored belief.
A draw against Netherlands in their final group game would see them through.
The Dutch had taken part in a stalemate against Scotland in their first encounter, before beating Switzerland through goals from Jordi Cruyff and Dennis Bergkamp.
They were one of the pre-tournament favourites, and for good reason. The squad contained the likes of Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Ronald de Boer.
They were favourites to beat England as well. In the end, it was a day where everything changed for Terry Venables and his side.
England almost opened the scoring with their first clear cut chance, Alan Shearer seeing his effort cleared off the line from a corner.
Then came the first defining moment. Steve McManaman was played in on the right flank and passed to Paul Ince, who flicked the ball past Danny Blind inside the area and was brought down for his troubles.
Shearer made no mistake with the penalty, firing the ball into the bottom corner beyond Edwin van der Sar. Advantage England.
At the other end, David Seaman was called into action to produce a superb save to deny Bergkamp from close range.
England went into half-time with a goal advantage, but things were still on a knife edge.
Moments into the second half, however, the vast majority of the 76,798 crowd inside Wembley erupted. A Paul Gascoigne corner found Teddy Sheringham, Sheringham leaped and powered the ball into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Wembley was rocking, and the sound levels rose even further six minutes later.
Every England fan watching at the time (and ever since) knows how it goes. Gascoigne to Sheringham, Sheringham’s delightfully weighted sideways pass to Shearer – goal.
There was no way back for the Dutch. And it got worse on 62 minutes, when Darren Anderton’s long effort was saved and Sheringham was first to slide in the rebound.
Simply put, almost everything England attempted was coming off.
The only blot on an unbelievable copybook was when Patrick Kluivert pulled one back for the Netherlands on 78 minutes.
The game ended 4-1, representing a seismic triumph for Terry Venables and his side. Having beaten one of the pre-tournament favourites in such a manner, the belief was there that England could go all the way.
Despite the heavy defeat, the Netherlands still progressed through their group in second place. That was despite Scotland’s 1-0 victory over Switzerland.
The quarter-finals, however, was as far as they got. After a 0-0 draw with France at Anfield, the Dutch lost 5-4 in a penalty shootout.
England would record the same result in their quarter-final encounter against Spain. But they made no mistake in the shootout, with Shearer, Platt, Pearce and Gascoigne all scoring their spot kicks to secure a 4-2 victory.
Then came Germany – and England fans know what happened next. After a 1-1 draw, the Germans won 6-5 on penalties, before going on to beat Czech Republic in the final.
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